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Why Are Rest Days Important For My Progress?



Why Are Rest Days Important For My Progress?

When you’re following an exercise regime, it can be easy to get engrossed in planning your mix of cardio, strength training and stretching, and forget all about your rest days. Rest days are as crucial to your success as the days you work out. But sometimes, having a rest day can make us feel guilty or even make us miss the buzz of exercise. And we know this happens, because you tell us! 

In our Facebook community so many of you have said that you find it difficult to take rest days. However, rest days are so important to you owning your goals, and should be factored in once or twice each week. Here’s why…

When we work out, we create tiny little tears in our muscle fibres. (That’s why they hurt the next day!) The body then goes about repairing these tiny tears by using the protein from our diet to create new muscle fibres to lay over the tears, thus repairing them and increasing our lean muscle mass at the same time. Which is the whole point of exercise, to create a leaner, fitter figure.

This process of beneficial muscle repair can only happen when we’re at rest, hence the importance of regular rest days.

There’s also the issue of the energy supply to the muscles. The muscles store the energy they need to work in the form of glycogen, a type of carbohydrate. The reserves of glycogen the muscles are able to store are limited, and when they run out, our muscles get tired and we have to stop, exhausted. The muscles will then top up their supplies of glycogen when we’re at rest, so rest days are important here too. Without them, we simply wouldn’t be able to energise our muscles enough to work out effectively next time without reaching fatigue too soon. 

Training every day can also lead to overtraining syndrome, a condition where the muscles are so routinely overworked and strained without time for recovery, that they’re at a higher risk of injury. If you then injure yourself, you’ll be off exercise for far longer than a rest day or two a week.

Our hormones are also regulated by rest. When we exercise, we produce stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. If you’ve ever worked out late at night and then struggle to sleep, then that’ll be your stress hormones at work, keeping you alert. Whilst exercise is a very positive thing, our body needs the chance to recover from these hormones, and rest days help us do just that, meaning that we sleep better, and are more energised to carry on our workout routine the next day. 

Rest days also allow us to reach our goals quicker by helping mentally with motivation. Training every day could mean that we become too fatigued (or bored) to carry on. With rest, that extra rep or minute is in closer reach, so make sure you’re factoring in your essential rest day!

If a complete rest day seems daunting, you could have an ‘Active Rest Day’.  These days are where you are still active in some way but are not performing your usual workouts. For example, you could go for a walk, a gentle swim or do yoga workout.  Anything that is gentle and not your usual type of workout is what you are aiming for on these days. 

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