This post on the importance of rest days is sponsored by Premier Protein. Thanks for supporting our sponsors, and there’s a little giveaway at the end too.
Hi, friends! Hope you had a great weekend. This one’s all about fitness …
If you read A Lady Goes West regularly, it’s no secret that I constantly bring up the word “balance.” Balance in the way you eat, balance in the way you live your life and of course, balance in the way you exercise.
I don’t think you should have a strict no-carb diet every single day with zero sugar, and I also don’t think you should exercise every single day without rest either. The funny thing is, even though I mention this a lot, I know that some of you actually struggle with both of these things.
While some people have trouble keeping up with a regular workout routine or making themselves eat healthy food, there is an entirely other group of people who struggle with letting go of their strict routine and straying from their perfect diet. And these are both problems. And both of these groups of people have trouble understanding each other’s struggles! Funny, right? 🙂
The importance of rest days
That’s why we’re going to talk about balance — like real balance. Not so much the straying from your diet thing, because I’m not a nutritionist, even though I’d like to think I know a thing or two about macros, healthy food and what to eat and when. Instead, we’re going to talk about balance in exercise and the importance of rest days. And by rest days, I mean taking a day off from exercise, at least one time every single week.
And by the way, fitness is a very individual thing. Some people may need more rest than others. And elite athletes may be able to push their rest day further out than once a week, but this post is for the everyday average worker-outer, which you probably are right now.
Reasons WHY you should take a rest day each week
I know it’s hard to get yourself into the mindset of knowing that you need rest. So let’s talk about the reasoning …
Your body will recover.
Your body does not improve during the workout itself, it actually improves AFTER the workout, when it recovers and rebuilds the tiny tears in your muscles that you make during exercise. The day after a tough full-body strength training session or a long run is the day when your muscles are repairing and getting stronger. If you work out every single day, you are never getting the chance to have this full day of improvement. The same goes for taking the same low-impact barre class every single day. You are not getting better at that class if you never have a day away to rebuild away from the repetitive movement. A day of rest is a gift to your body, helping it to improve. Receive that gift!
You will feel stronger in your other workouts.
If you are someone who exercises every single day, you may not know what it is like to have fresh legs or lungs when you exercise, because you constantly have fatigue — perhaps even nagging fatigue that you don’t know is plaguing you. I have felt this before — when I was teaching and doing more than 12 workouts a week as a group fitness instructor and trainer living in San Francisco. Even though I could go hard in each of these many workouts, I was NOT working at my maximum potential, because I didn’t give my body enough time to rest and totally rebuild. At that time, I took one rest day, but I likely should’ve been taking two to counteract my massive amounts of activity. Once I started taking more days to rest, I felt myself perform better in my other workouts (I also reduced the overall load too in order to improve my hormones, and if you want to know more about why — check out this post on how I recovered from exercise-related hypothalamic amenorrhea and my full story with other tips in my ebook, “Fit and Fertile.”)
You will reduce your chance of an overuse injury.
If you have any pesky injuries, like shin splints or stress fractures or sore knees, I can bet that taking a full day off each week from exercise will help those problems. In addition, if you have a regular day away from workouts, you will likely have an even better chance at avoiding future overuse injuries. If you’ve never had an exercise-related injury, then props to you and knock on wood. But once you get one, another one is bound to happen elsewhere in your body as you try to compensate for the messed-up spot — it’s sad, but true. (For instance, hurt your foot? Your hip or knee on the opposite leg may be next ailment based on how the body works together.) And if the injury gets bad, you may be forced to take a LONG time off exercise and require medical intervention. So learn to be proactive by taking a rest day regularly.
Some ways on HOW you can take a rest day each week
And now that you’re thinking about the why, here’s how you can do it …
Find something to do with your extra time.
If you are someone who goes to the gym each morning after you wake up without fail, plan an activity for your rest day in the morning. Maybe you can sleep in a bit that day or maybe you can read a book, or maybe you can take yourself to your favorite coffee shop for a special latte, just to keep busy. You could also try doing a very leisure walk on your rest day, and maybe even recruit a friend or family member to go with you on that walk and turn it into social hour. And your rest day doesn’t have to be on Sunday either. If you want to rest on a weekday, may I recommend Monday? I LOVE taking Monday rest days, because that’s usually the hardest day to get to the gym anyhow. And that saying “never miss a Monday” — who cares. Just take a rest day. Your choice on when, and the same day each week is ideal, but it doesn’t really matter.
Remind yourself that you are getting stronger with rest.
The biggest battle for getting away from daily exercises is usually the feeling that you are lazy if you don’t work out. Try to flip that mindset and tell yourself you are SMART and STRATEGIC if you don’t work out for one day each week. Here’s some mental imagery — picture your broken and sore muscles building up as you leisurely walk around, enjoy some TV, catch up with friends and use that time you would have for the gym for something else productive and good for the soul. Visualize your body regaining its full potential with your smart rest. It’s a beautiful thing.
Know that taking a rest day will get easier.
Once you start removing that workout from one day a week and replacing it with a massage, a walk or even a trip to your favorite farmer’s market with a ready-to-drink Premier Protein shake in hand, know that it will get easier and easier to take that day. In fact, you may start to look forward to it. It’s pretty nice when you don’t have a super sweaty intense session to dry off or clean up from sometimes. One rest day at a time, one week at a time, you will become more accustomed to it!
Understand it will help you to avoid burnout.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and if you ever find yourself getting sick of your every single day workout routine, a weekly day away from exercise may be just what the doctor ordered to get you pumped up and ready to hit the gym the next day. I promise!
And that’ll do it. While I know that it can be hard to veer off your routine, especially if you LOVE to exercise and get that post-workout high, it can be done. Take it from me: You will actually learn to love your weekly rest days, and while you don’t have to sit on the couch all day to rest (and probably should never sit on the couch all day unless you’re not well), you will benefit from avoiding exercise for a full 24 hours at least once a week. Trust me, peeps! End rant!
GIVEAWAY: Win some Premier Protein
Because I want to thank you for stopping by the blog today to read about the importance of rest days, I’d like to offer one lucky winner in the U.S. the chance to win an assortment of Premier Protein ready-to-drink shakes and a few protein bars like this … you’ll get various flavors of both delivered right to your door!
As you know, I’ve been working with Premier Protein on #TheDayIsYours campaign for the last few months, and it’s all about doing your best and feeling your best. Premier Protein offers some super-convenient protein-based products to help you recover after a workout or serve as a protein-filled snack, so you can keep up the great work on rest days and on active days.
To enter this giveaway, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post.
To leave a comment, click on the blog post title, then scroll to the bottom of the post and put in your name and email (your email will not be shared publicly), and then leave your comment. That’s it. The more comments, the more chances to win. I will pick a winner on Friday of this week.
If you need some ideas of what to leave in your comment, you can answer either of the questions below at the end of the post. Or you could just say “hi”! You can also leave a separate comment if you follow A Lady Goes West on Instagram and on Facebook. Good luck!WHY and HOW you can make yourself take rest days with a #protein #giveaway by trainer @apstyle ... Click To Tweet
Disclaimer: This post about the importance of rest days and the giveaway is sponsored by Premier Protein. I received compensation and complimentary product, but all opinions are my own.
Questions of the day
Do you take a day off of exercise each week? If so, which day?
What is your favorite way to unwind and relax?