As a coach and an athlete myself, I fully understand the mental battle that takes place when it comes to taking a rest day. Often we feel guilty because we finally are in a routine that is working great and we are working hard to accomplish our fitness goal. But what happens when you go over 7 days without taking a break? Are we doing more harm than good when we over train?
The answer is simply yes. Our body requires time to recover from the workouts that we put it through. Rest is necessary for our muscles to repair and rebuild. Rest is also necessary to achieve balance between work, family, friends, etc. If we do not build in rest days to our workout schedule it can be very easy to get burned out quickly.
Our body also requires time to adapt to the stress of the exercises we do. As we continue to push ourselves harder, our body has to learn to replenish energy stores (muscle glycogen) and repair damaged tissue. If we do not allow proper recovery time, our body will continue to break down and will not rebuild itself effectively. Overtraining can also cause a bunch of other issues such as lack of energy, depression, increased risk of injury, decreased immunity, insomnia, and a compulsive need to exercise …which leads to unnecessary guilty when you finally do take a break.
All of this can be avoided if you just schedule a rest day throughout the week and focus on active recovery. Taking a rest day doesn’t necessarily mean you should do absolutely nothing active that day, it just means you should not do your heavy lifting or high intensity routine. Go for a walk or casual bike ride, take the stairs, or find a meditation/yoga studio near you. These types of low-impact activities allow you to get in some exercise without breaking down your body even more.
Lastly, sleep is SO important! When we sleep the tissues of the body get repaired. When you don’t sleep, the stress hormone cortisol is increased, the body’s production of growth hormones is decreased and our body’s ability to effectively repair its tissues and cells is diminished so aim for those 7-8 hours each night!
So train hard, rest hard, and SLEEP!