Regardless of how many times you train per week, you need some sort of rest. And when I say rest, I mean rest. Rest days are just as important as training days. No world class athlete works out seven days a week non-stop. They actually are even more scientific where they cycle their training meaning that they have low-medium-high intensity days. Depending on the sport, these days and what you do with them will vary.
For the beginner, they feel guilty when they take off thinking that they are cheating the body and as if they are running out of time to reach a certain goal. But remember, healthy living lasts a lifetime, it is not a fad that you throw out during the winter or every other month.
Rest is needed to not only repair the muscles, but to also give yourself a mental break when training becomes a grind. Especially if you are training for a specific event.
Rest days are also good in order to still maintain a balance between work, family and friends.
Now there are several forms of rest:
Short Term: this is between work outs from one day to the next. If you lift weights this means training a body part one day then training another body part the next day. This allows you to train consecutive days with out rest in one respect, but actually resting one body part for several days. For instance, I break my body down into five parts. Each part is trained one day out of the week. So basically, each body part gets six days of rest before it gets trained again:
Day 1: Chest Day 2: Back Day 3: Legs Day 4: Shoulders Day 5: Arms, then it is followed by two complete days of rest and no training.
In other sports, you can do the same thing, changing up the type of training so you don’t over work the muscles, i.e. running doing a short run one day followed by sprints the next then maybe a longer run the day after that.
Short term rest also means to get plenty of sleep and nutrition. If your work out lasts an hour, remember your body has 23 hours of rest before the next work out. Take advantage of it by feeding your body well in order to recover and get adequate sleep.
Middle Term: This is rest days between work outs. This may be a day or two but trust me, when you get into the rhythm of training, those 24 and 48 hour breaks are incredibly rejuvenating.
Long Term: At least once a year and preferably twice a year, take a long break. This is a rest period of at least a week, maybe two. Even world class athletes do it, sometimes even longer than that. It is especially important not just for the muscles since they don’t really need that long of a rest period, but for the joints which take a pounding no matter what type of training you do.
After you have been training awhile, you get to know your body. You know what works and what doesn’t work for you. You know when to slow it down or speed it up. Listen to it and it will reward you tenfold.
Resting isn’t a bad thing to be…Fit Forlife!