Why it is Important to Include Rest Days in Your Routine



Rest days are an important part of a fitness regimen, and athletes should not overlook them. They can be as or more impactful to gaining muscle, or losing fat as a working day is. Additionally, even in between exercise days, sleep and recovery are key to maximizing performance and stimulating muscle growth. Though that is not enough itself as the body naturally needs more time to recover. In addition to assisting with recovery, rest days can help with stimulating new muscle growth, increasing regimen adherence, and preventing injuries


Rest days Stimulate New Muscle Growth


Giving your body a rest in between exercise days allows the muscle to rebuild and develop its fibers from the microtears and damage caused by strenuous exercise. When lifting weights, the movements cause tiny tears and damage to some muscle fibers called myofibrils that rebuild into slightly bigger ones. However, this process requires the muscle group to get adequate time to develop. Some individuals can benefit from a split routine, like the popular “push, pull, and leg” circuit where people can train different parts of the body to allow for the back, biceps, and rear delts to be trained where the rest of the body recovers to train more frequently without a decline in performance. However, there should be at least one rest day to fully recover in a routine, as working out every day is very  “taxing on your body,” and reportedly will  “deplete your glycogen stores which you use for energy.” One idea for very active individuals is to take an “active” rest day, where you don’t train as hard, but rather focus on stretching and light cardio. If you don’t give yourself a good day of rest once in a while, you may do more harm than good.


Rest days Increase Program Adherence

Including adequate time to recover from a workout can not only stimulate growth but also it can help with making a workout routine more sustainable. Providing rest days can help on a busy schedule, as it is unpredictable to tell if events are going to run as smoothly as they do. Missing one workout may not be super consequential, though if this becomes a habit, many are likely to fail to adhere to their exercise routine and may quit altogether. The main problem is with less frequent rest days, workouts are harder to make up and can impede recovery.  Even if someone feels that they can physically manage a routine for some time, this may not be the best idea long-term because of unplanned events and the lack of buffer in a schedule. What seems like a better plan is that even if an individual thinks they can manage to only have 1 rest day a week, they may want to have a second one just in case, and the additional rest day can be used to work on new techniques, incorporate a stretching/flexibility element into a regimen, or as a make-up day for any extra body parts/skill that people struggle to find time to work in their regular splits.      


Rest days Help Prevent Injuries


Some individuals may be able to adhere to an exercise routine, though injuries can inhibit progress and be the cause to take a break, quit, or fear starting a new routine. Lots of injuries are caused by unfortunate moments in the gym or ego lifting that goes way too far, but many can be due to or start because of the overuse of a muscle, as people do not take enough rest or may continue working the muscle even though it is already inflamed. In fact according to Dr. David Braunreiter, a specialist in sports medicine from the Houston Methodist Hospital, “The injuries we see most often in people who lift weights are muscle strains from overuse or acute injury,” he additionally adds that after people do not adequate time care and rest small injuries, “There’s also the potential for a serious injury — a meniscus tear, patellar tendon tear, and even Achilles tendon rupture.” Once you get an injury, it is imperative that somehow you alleviate the injury, and if this is reoccurring or frequent injuries occur, try toning down your routine by a day or shorten the duration of your workout. It is great to have a good exercise routine though make sure that the regimen is balanced enough to avoid injuries.


There are many ways people get adequate amounts of rest while working out in an intense regimen. Rest days feel great, and they provide benefits that stimulate muscle growth. Additionally, rest days make routines become more sustainable allowing flexibility and balance into busy schedules. Lastly, and most importantly they help with preventing many acute and overuse injuries. When creating a routine, have at least one day to either take a light walk, spend time with family, watch tv, or simply take a nap.