Rest and recovery days are an important part of any exercise regimen. Weight training and cardio workouts essentially break down muscle and tissues in your body and deplete your energy stores. Taking a rest day helps restore your energy and allows your body the time it needs to heal.
Taking regular rest days can help prevent overtraining injuries, ward off physical and mental fatigue and boost your immune system, ultimately improving the quality of your workouts.
How can I take rest and recovery days without losing the progress I’ve made?
First of all, it’s important to understand that taking a rest and recovery day does not mean doing nothing. It is still important to be active on your “day off.” It’s the type of activity you do on a rest and recovery day that matters.
Think of your rest day as a day for active recovery. Rest days give your muscles a break from the more intense workouts you do on a regular basis, but light exercises on your rest day can help relieve muscle soreness and improve circulation to the muscles.
How often do I need to rest?
The answer to this question depends on the individual. Beginner exercisers should rest every three days. More experienced exercisers should take a recovery day once a week. Serious athletes may only need a rest day once or twice a month. Exercisers and athletes of all levels should also consider building in a “recovery week” with a focus on decreasing training load about every eight weeks.
What should I do on my recovery day?
Choose exercises that complement your regular training schedule. Low-impact and stretching exercises are ideal. For example, a runner who regularly pounds the pavement training for a marathon might go for a bike ride or a swim on his day off. Static and dynamic stretching, walking, yoga and core exercises are other activities to consider for your rest day.
Rest and recovery days are just as important to your training schedule as your regular workouts. Take care of your body and prevent losing time to illness or injury down the road by building rest and recovery days into your workout routine.