If you’re hitting the gym 6 or 7 days a week, you’re doing it wrong. Your rest and recovery days are just as important as your workout days. And if you’re skipping them, you might not see the gains or progress you want.
Most athletes know this. The average person? Not as much.
The fitness industry drills it into people. You’re told that you’ve got to be active everyday to achieve your weight loss goals and other fitness goals. And while you can be active everyday… for example, going for a light walk or doing light stretches… you shouldn’t be doing intense or heavy workouts everyday.
The body needs this time to repair and rest. But why?
Why Recovery Matters
Continuous training will burn through your energy stores. You’ll end up putting your body in survival mode – a place where you definitely don’t want to be. This sets you up for mood swings, hormonal imbalances, weight gain, and more.
During your rest days, your body is actively working to repair your muscles. This allows you to come back stronger. It gives your body time to adapt. But if you never give it time to adapt, you’ll inevitably end up going nowhere. You’ll be wondering why everything is still oh-so-hard and why you aren’t making the progress you so desperately want.
During recovery, your body adapts to the stressor you just placed on it – hence why you might feel sore the day or two after a workout. And to adapt, your body needs energy. If you’re burning through that energy by overtraining each and everyday, you’re setting yourself up for failure. And you might set the perfect situation for injury (which no one wants!).
How Do You Know if You’re Overtraining?
Signs of overtraining include a lack of energy after your workout as opposed to feeling more energetic after your exercise session. You may start to feel depressed. You might notice your overall performance begins to suffer. And you might feel straight-up miserable.
So, what’s ideal? Aim to leave about 24-72 hours in between your training sessions. If it was a particularly intense workout, the longer recovery time is probably better. Get to know your body. And get used to listening to it!
Usually, you’ll know. And light exercise on these days isn’t all bad. Light walks, swimming, or stretching can actually help accelerate your recovery and reduce Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS).
Sleep is also huge on your recovery days. If you aren’t getting adequate sleep, not working out might be best. Again, you don’t want to overdo it.
So… Take Those Days Off!
You need them. Don’t feel guilty about it. Instead, get to know what you and your body need and when. Relaxation and rest is necessary. You can’t get around it. So, start accepting it and appreciating it! After all, life is all about balance. Only then will you get what you really want out of your life and only then will you truly find optimal happiness and health.