How Many Rest Days Do I Need When Exercising?

By on July 21, 2015
how many rest days do I need when exercising

Have you ever found yourself working extremely hard in the gym but failed to see the results you were striving for? Most likely, you were not giving your body enough time to rest in between workouts.

Many people set their sights on a fitness goal and hit the gym every single day while focusing on the exact same areas. Doing this is a huge mistake and can result in overtraining. The best way to prevent muscles from being over trained is with optimal rest.

At least 48 hours of rest is recommended to allow the recovery phase to take place. Whether you run, lift, weights or cycle, physical activity takes a toll on the muscles. When you exercise, microscopic tears are made in the muscle fibers. Once these tears are made, they have to heal.

When the tears made in the muscle fiber heal the muscle becomes bigger, stronger and more resilient. As you can see, your progress lies within the recovery phase. Without allowing muscles a minimum of 2 days to heal you are hindering your progress since you are causing more tears but are not giving them the opportunity to heal.

So, Do I Do Nothing on Rest Days?

Although muscles need rest, that doesn’t mean you should skip exercise on rest days. The type of exercise you do during rest depends on your usual workout. If you weight train, you have two options. You can do low intensity exercise on rest days or split your workout plan into three separate workout routines.

Developing each routine around certain muscle groups and cycling these routines is a great way to give muscles ample rest while continuing to stay active. No matter what type of exercise is included in your fitness program, low impact activities like Pilates and yoga are perfect. Rest days also present a great opportunity to work on aerobic conditioning.

Although two days is recommended, other factors play a role in determining how much rest you need. These factors include fitness level, the intensity of your workouts, duration and how your body responds to physical activity.

If your workouts are low intensity to begin with, less rest is required (about 12-24 hours will do). As for those who experience a lot of soreness, your body may require more rest. To avoid overtraining and maximize the results of your fitness program, listen to your body and make adjustments as needed.