Your rest days are just as important as your reps

Recovery can boost overall performance, while overuse can lead to injury.

By Barrett White

Whether you’re new to the gym or you’re a seasoned athlete, rest days are crucial to allow your body time to repair and benefit from the work you put into it. Resting is necessary for performance, muscle growth, and preventing fatigue from overuse.

If you’re new to a fitness routine, taking a rest day can feel counterproductive: Why would you sit around and do nothing when you’re starting a workout regimen? It’s not that simple. Working out – whether you’re running, weightlifting, dancing, playing sports, and more – engages your muscles, tearing muscle fibers as you exert yourself, flex, and achieve that next rep or that personal record. Soreness after a workout, especially when you’re new to the gym, is a byproduct of your body’s healing process.

Your body requires rest every few days so that it can heal, repair, and prepare itself for the next workout. Overtraining on the other hand, can lead to injury. So why are rest days so great?

Rest days support your sleep schedule

Exercise causes your body to produce the hormones cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones give your body a boost of energy when it needs it – like during a workout. Overtraining can cause your body to produce too much of these hormones, which can negatively impact your sleep cycle.

Rest days help your body to regulate production of these hormones so that your time in the gym can actually improve your sleep instead of hindering it.

Rest may reduce your risk of injury

Missing out on adequate rest can lead to overtraining injuries like shin splints, tennis elbow, swimmer’s shoulder, and more.

Additionally, when your body’s not well rested, you may run the risk of lifting a weight with improper form, which itself can cause injury – sometimes serious.

Resting means recovering

Your body gets to use your rest days to take advantage of all the work you’ve put into it! It’s on your rest days that the benefits of exercise actually take place, including but not limited to muscle growth.

As mentioned above, your muscles tear when you use them in exercise. Your rest days are when the muscle is healed, making them stronger (and, over time, bigger).