While most athletes know that rest is important, it doesn’t stop them from feeling guilty when they take a day off from their routines. But rest is one of the most important components of a routine – it allows your body to repair itself and helps you balance your athletics with the other areas of your life.
Benefits of Rest
Every coach or personal trainer will tell you that rest days are essential, but it can sometimes be unclear why. Some of the benefits of taking rest days include:
- Promoting muscle recovery: After you exercise, the glycogen in your muscles is depleted and your muscle tissue has been damaged to allow for new growth. Your body needs time to repair these resources, or it will eventually break down.
- Overcoming adaptation: Adaptation is sort of like our body building up a tolerance to a certain amount of stress – we need this function to make progress. However, doing it too fast will cause more damage than improvement. We need to rest to let our bodies get used to their new adaptations.
- Preventing overtraining: Overtraining syndrome affects around 60% of elite athletes, and it can be difficult to recover from once you get to that point. It can decrease your libido, affect your mood, and even increase your body fat.
- Promoting relaxation: Your mind and body need breaks to function properly, and taking rest days is essential to promoting a sufficient life balance.
How to Take a Rest Day
There are two different types of recovery – passive and active. Both are important in your workout routines, so make a schedule and cycle between the two.
Active recovery is when you still engage in exercise, but you keep it to a low intensity and place minimal stress on your body. Activities such as walking and stretching are common for active recovery days.
Passive recovery is taking a day off from exercise of any kind – this can help your body rest and rebalance itself.