Why You Need a Rest Day

In a world where we’re expected to be busy all the time, it can be downright difficult for some of us to admit we need a break. It can be even harder to take one. We do benefit from rest in a variety of ways, though, that pay off both in the short and long terms.

  • First, we give our nervous systems the opportunity to relax. Intense workouts are tiring for our brains as well as our bodies. You may assume that the rest of your day post-workout provides you ample opportunity to come down from your cardio or strength routine, but consider the cumulative effect of workout after workout over the course of your week. Depending on the intensity of your workouts, you might need a more deliberate break from pushing hard.
  • Second, rest gives the muscles time to repair themselves before the next workout. During strength training sessions in particular, our muscles experience micro tears to the myofibrils within the muscle fiber, which in turn stimulate the body’s repair response, according to Dr. Benjamin Wedro and Richard Weil in an article for Medicinenet.com (“How Muscles Work and How They Respond to Resistance Training”). The body then delivers nutrients that flow to the muscle cells to repair the damage and stimulate more myofibrils to grow. This process of increasing cell size and ultimately muscle strength is called muscle hypertrophy.

In an article for Openfit.com (“Hypertrophy: What It Is and How to Maximize It”; Aug. 13, 2019), Openfit’s Senior Manager of Fitness and Nutrition Content Trevor Thieme elaborated on the function of rest in building muscle strength: “Muscles don’t grow during training sessions. They grow between them, so you have to prioritize recovery as much as you do working out.” His advice is to give yourself 48 hours between workouts that target the same muscle group. So, for example, subjecting yourself to a challenging arms and shoulders workout on two consecutive days is something you want to avoid, as it doesn’t provide that muscle group enough time to recover before stressing it again.

That leads us to a third benefit of rest:

  • It helps us avoid injury. According to Dr. Deena Casiero of UConn Health, rest is critical to avoiding injury and seeing gains in your training regimen. “You can not get faster or stronger without allowing your body time to heal and recover. Rest days should occur at least one to two times per week.”

Sometimes the body and the mind send an “SOS” that it’s time to tap the brakes, and if we don’t listen, we might find ourselves on the off-ramp to Burnout City. Here are ___ signals you should pay attention to (sources: MedicalNewsToday.com and U.S. News & World Report).

  • Persistent muscle pain or soreness
  • Inability to complete a workout routine
  • Continued feelings of sluggishness following a workout
  • Diminished appetite
  • Disinterest in exercise
  • Increased incidence of injury or illness
  • Moodiness, irritability or insomnia
  • Elevated resting heart rate

Being part of a team can have a positive impact on our lifelong habits. Tiger-Rock Martial Arts provides children through adults a supportive, healthy and balanced environment for learning about the importance of physical activity – and rest — to our overall health. To learn more about our programs, contact us today.