Do you have trouble taking a rest day? Me too.
I’ve always had a hard time with rest days: it’s not easy for me to ‘relax’ and I get antsy. Crawling up the walls, jumping from ‘A’ to ‘B’, sometimes emotional ‘antsy’. While most people have trouble working up the motivation TO workout, I struggle with having the discipline to hold myself back. It wasn’t until I ended up with a double stress fracture in my hip last year that I seriously started focusing on ‘recovery’ days as part of the “routine”.
I’m a self-proclaimed fitness addict and the ‘high’ I get from my workouts is something I crave almost daily. Holding myself back & taking time to recover is something I have to actively work on & involves listening to my body closely. There are days when it needs me to go easy, even if I don’t feel like it. That’s okay since we need to be making decisions based on ITS needs and not our ego’s. It’s hard sometimes, but I do it. I love this bod of mine and I express it by treating it with care.
The amazing thing is that once I started focusing on getting enough rest, my body started to repay the favor. I had more energy. I was less sore. I dropped a little body fat that just wasn’t budging before. My performance went UP. Even today, I continually see better results by making sure at least 1-2 days a week don’t include a ‘workout’.
I don’t schedule my rest days (it gives me the flexibility to decide if my body needs one on the fly). Some weeks I take more than others & I usually rest on Sundays. Some people prefer to have set rest days, but you should listen to your body FIRST and stay flexible: it’s not advisable to push through a workout ‘day’ when your body is telling you otherwise.
When to take a rest day…
- If you haven’t had one in awhile (you should have at least one a week and more if you’re training harder than usual).
- If you’re unusually sore or suspect a possible injury (twinges count).
- When you’re sacrificing sleep or other priorities in order to workout (sometimes, we just have surprisingly busy days. And sometimes we may be falling into dangerous fitness ‘addiction’ territory. Make sure your sleep, life, and obligations still come first. How to spot signs of fitness addiction.).
- If you are experiencing symptoms of overtraining.
If you have trouble taking rest days (guilt, fear of losing momentum etc.) try an active recovery day instead. Walks, light yoga (not all yoga is ‘light’) & serious stretching can help you feel as though you’ve gotten a workout while letting your muscles recover & rebuild. My ‘rest’ days are usually full of distractions: making plans to keep your mind off “missing” your workout is a big help. Keep things light though: people like me can easily turn that walk into a ‘power’ walk. Conventional wisdom says you should take a rest day on your ‘lazy’ day. It’s up to you, but I’ve found better success taking it on a day when I’ve made other plans & commitments. If you’re a fit freak, experimenting with when you take your rest day can help you through it.
Remember: workouts are body DAMAGE. Results come from making enough time for our bodies to rebuild stronger than before. The more intense your workouts, the more rest days you need: take them. :)
Rest days: they’re part of the program TOO.
Stretch Out Sundays: Try this 20 minute yoga/stretch routine on your rest day. It’s a great way to “recover” while still feeling as though you’re moving.