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Balancing Your Training With Rest Days


Why are rest days important? How many rest days should you have? Do you really need to have a rest day? 

These are questions you might have heard, or that you might have even asked yourself. When you’re trying to achieve physical results or to make progress, it might seem as though rest days are a waste of your valuable time. Trust us, they aren’t. 

Rest days are an essential part of any training program, regardless of whether your preference is weight training, high-intensity workouts or marathon running. These are a few reasons why it’s so important to balance your training with rest. 

What are rest days? 

A rest day is a day where you take a complete break from training and allow your body some time to recover. Rest days are an important part of your overall recovery plan, alongside rehabilitation. If you want better results from the gym, you better believe rest days are part of that plan!

Why are rest days so important

It might sound strange, but rest days are often when your body does a lot of work! This is the time when your body begins to replenish its stores of energy and when it gets to work repairing tissue used during your workouts — particularly your muscles. Your body then has time to heal this tissue and to help it grow bigger and stronger. 

You might get tempted to skip your rest day, especially when you’re so focused on achieving your goals. But think of it this way — when you’re really tired, you struggle to do things you could normally do quite easily, right? It’s a similar principle. If your body is physically tired, you might notice increased muscle soreness or a decrease in your performance. Take that as a sign you need to R-E-S-T!

Having a rest day also gives you a chance to have a mental break from training, something we may not always prioritise. 

How often should you rest?

This is a great question, unfortunately, the answer isn’t quite straightforward. It can depend on your fitness level — for example, beginners may need to prioritise rest days slightly more than those who have been working out for some time. Some exercise programs are more physically demanding than others, and everyone’s fitness level and body will be slightly different. It’s all about balancing your training and having rest days as well! 

In the SWEAT app, for example, each program balances resistance sessions with some cardio and rehabilitation sessions. You’ll notice that all programs have recommended rehabilitation sessions and rest days to allocate in your planner!

At the very least, we would recommend allocating yourself one day of rest per week. Now, rest day doesn’t have to mean laying on the couch, doing absolutely nothing but snacking and binge-watching (unless that’s what you want). You may prefer to have active rest days

What are active rest days?

An active rest day means doing some light activity in place of your normal training. You might like to take a slow walk, do a gentle yoga class (restorative or Hatha-style yoga can be great) or take your dog to the park. How active you want to be can really depend on how intense your training is, and how you feel that your body is holding up. 

When you’re trying to balance training with rest, it is really important to pay attention to your body. It will tell you if you’re overdoing it and you need to slow down. Fatigue, aching muscles and a loss of appetite can all be a sign that you might be overtraining. Slow it down a bit and take those cues your body is giving you. Keep doing your rehabilitation and foam rolling sessions and remember that rest is never wasted time!

Results may vary. Strict adherence to the nutrition and exercise guide are required for best results.