There’s a reason why rest days are woven into every serious exercise program. Our bodies are not meant to exert intense effort on a daily basis and not taking the proper time to rest can actually have damaging effects on your body. But what exactly does “resting” mean?
Rest is Often Misunderstood
It’s easy and straightforward to follow a workout on your exercise days, simply do as the instructions tell you to. However, on rest days most people are left confused. Should I jog? Lift lighter weights than usual? American Council on Exercise (ACE) defines a rest day as a non-training day, where you’re not challenging your body. A non-training day seems straightforward, but the meaning of “not challenging”, on the other hand, can be open to interpretation. Not challenging your muscles on your rest day gives them proper time to heal from the damage you’ve caused to your muscles fibers during your workouts. The recovery is what enables you to get fitter and move towards your goals.
No Rest Equals No Results
Refusing to properly rest on your rest days will actually hurt you in the long run. Ideally your workouts should be a repeated cycle of working out, resting, profiting results, and doing it all over again. If you push yourself too hard day in and day out, not only does your body get physically exhausted and incapable of recovering, your mind will also wear out and you won’t have the motivation to continue at some point.
Rest Doesn’t Have to Mean Doing Nothing
If you’re one of those people who think doing nothing for a whole day will make you lose your momentum than do what we call “active recovery” instead. Active recover can include practicing your techniques without exerting effort, just trying to keep proper form. It can also mean doing light cardio and aerobic exercises such as going on a light walk, a hike, or swimming. The key is to not sit on the couch all day eating potato chips. As long as your moving, you’re active recovery will help you keep up the workout pace.