Step count, active minutes, calories burned… These are all important pieces of data that help us live healthier, more active lives. So often we hear about the important health benefits of exercise and the negative side effects of inactivity, but it’s not as common to hear about why we also need to allow our bodies some time to rest. Yes, it’s important to incorporate small bouts of movement throughout every day, but intense workouts definitely shouldn’t be a daily occurrence.
When you perform excessive amounts of exercise without proper rest and recovery you may experience some harmful side effects including injuries, decreased performance, fatigue, altered hormonal states, poor sleeping patterns, reproductive disorders, decreased immunity, loss of appetite, and mood swings.
Resting is just as important as working out because it’s an equal part of the total process required to build strength, endurance, and muscle. Exercise, breaks your body tissues down. In fact, resistance training breaks down muscles causing microscopic tears.
Rest days allow your muscles, nerves, bones, and connective tissue time to rebuild.
MUSCLES GROW AND GET STRONGER DURING REST not during the actual workout.
If you do not provide your body with adequate rest or nutrition, you can actually reverse the anabolic process and put your body into a catabolic or destructive state.
So how many days should you workout and how many days should you be resting per week?
It really depends on the individual and their level of training, but for most 3-4 days of intense exercise is more than enough. Higher level athletes may be able to handle 4-5 days. Ideally you should be allowing 24-48 hrs recovery time after hitting a muscle group hard before you work those same muscles again.
Remember "Rest Days" don't mean that you have to sit on the couch all day. We recommend doing a lighter form of exercise on those days. Gentle yoga or a mobility session, maybe some corrective exercises to help fix muscle imbalances or pain, play a sport, go for a bike ride or a long walk, or spend some of this time meal prepping.
Invest in the next workout!
On your rest days you need to do everything you can to put your body in the best possible situation to perform at the highest level for the next day or next workout.
What are some signs you might be overtraining?
You're always sore or stiff. Sure a little muscle soreness after a strenuous workout is normal, but if you are stiff or sore everyday especially in joints, then that may a sign that you are overtraining.
You have nagging injuries. When you overtrain, your body doesn’t get enough time to recuperate between workouts meaning that at some point you are training in a weakened state.
You're constantly moody or tired. You may have heard that exercise makes you happy, that's due to the rush of endorphin's released however those endorphin's are accompanied by cortisol, a stress hormone. When cortisol levels are high for an extended period of time, it can take a toll.
Some athletes experience a lack of focus, energy or a loss of motivation. This could be due to a psychological burnout due to overtraining. The consequences could be devastating both mentally and physically.
Needing excessive sleep or not being able to sleep are both signs that you may be overtraining.
You're getting sick more often. The process of overtraining means your body is in a continual catabolic state, which lowers immunity and increases the chance of getting sick.
You're seeing weightloss or muscle gain plateaus. Sometimes, working out too much can actually cause muscle wasting and fat deposition.
Severe overtraining could take months to overcome, so listen to your body and schedule your rest days appropriately.