As much as you might love physical challenges, you can only push your body so hard before it breaks. This is why taking time off of training to rest is a common recommendation for people who work out regularly. Do you really need to take a whole day or more off of training every week, though? How important are rest days, really? That depends on how you use them.
OVERTRAINING CAN LEAD TO INJURY
The last thing you want is to have to take time off from your training because of an injury. Accidents happen, but overworking the same muscle groups to the point of strain, sprain or tear is pretty much avoidable. This is why varying your workouts is so important. Putting your muscles and joints through the same movements and exercises day after day is the best way to end up hurt. Giving certain muscle groups a break is a smart move.
FULL-BODY REST DAYS ARE RECOMMENDED, BUT NOT ESSENTIAL
Every now and then, you really should take a full day off from training to let your body get some quality rest time, both sleep and relaxation. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to break for a rest day every week, though, if you don’t want to. Again, the key here is variety. You don’t have to take a full-body rest day, but you definitely shouldn’t work the same muscle groups too many days in a row. For example, you might focus on HIIT one day, do some light cardio the next day, and focus on strength training the day after that. It’s possible to give one muscle group a break while another one repairs itself. Just take it easy, though. And if you really do feel like you need to take a day off, do it.
HOW MUCH REST DO YOU NEED?
There’s no formula for figuring out how much rest every guy needs, because everyone is different. Your best bet is to learn to pay attention to and read your body. If you feel a little tired but want to push yourself a little more, that’s probably fine. If one muscle group feels overworked, try doing a light workout that doesn’t involve those muscles. If you feel fatigued and like you shouldn’t risk pushing yourself any further, it’s OK to step back. Give yourself a break. Usually, if you let yourself truly rest for a day, you’ll be fine to get back to training immediately. Just be careful.
Rest days are important for letting your muscles repair and avoiding serious, preventable injury. That doesn’t mean you have to take a full day off of training, as long as you switch up your workouts. But if you need to rest, just let yourself rest. One day off isn’t going to completely throw off your routine, and you’re not going to start losing muscle mass if you skip the gym once or even twice. Pay attention to your body. It will tell you when it needs a break. Let it have one, when it needs it. You’re working hard. You deserve it.