Do you want to know what’s just as important as movement? Rest.
Rest has so many mental and physical benefits. From de-stressing our minds to allowing our muscles the time they need to heal and grow stronger, rest is a critical part of our health.
Toxic fitness culture has popularized phrases like “no days off” and “if you’re tired, do it tired”. But the truth is, we need adequate rest in order to refuel our bodies and reach our fitness goals. We need days off! Think about it this way: it doesn’t matter how powerful your car’s engine is, if your tank is empty it won’t go anywhere.
To refuel our tanks, we need two types of physical rest; passive rest and active rest. Passive rest can look like sleeping in an extra 30 minutes or spending the morning sitting on the porch reading a book. Whatever gets you to slow down, breathe and completely relax your body. On the other hand, active rest requires light movement, such as going for a walk, a casual swim, or a gentle stretch. Active rest is a great way to alleviate DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness).
The amount of rest that a person needs, as well as the intervals at which they need to rest, is going to vary greatly from person to person. So how do we know when we need it, or if we’re getting enough?
A few major signs that your body is asking for a break:
- Prolonged Soreness
Experiencing muscle soreness after a workout, aka DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) is totally normal. DOMS typically arise the day after a workout, and peak at the two-day mark. But if your muscles are sore for more than three days after exercising, it might be a sign that you need to rest that muscle group or your whole body.
- Performance Plateaus
If you haven’t been working proper rest into your schedule, you might notice that your movement progress is plateauing. In order to get stronger, our muscles must get the rest they need between workouts.
- Dreading Your Workouts
You’re not going to be super pumped to workout, every single time. But if you’ve been pushing yourself hard and have started feeling like exercise is the last thing you want to do, this could be a sign that you’re mentally and physically burnt out, and you need to mix in some more rest days.
So now we know when to rest. But when does rest start doing more harm to your progress than good? While rest is great for helping you recharge, too much time off movement can lead to a decrease in fitness level. We begin to lose strength after about three weeks away from our regular exercise habits.
We all need to take prolonged breaks sometimes. If you’ve had to take more than a couple of weeks off due to a busy schedule, injury, mental health, or one of the other hurdles life throws at us, it’s important to manage your expectations before getting back at it. You most likely won’t be quite at the level you were before your break, and that’s okay! What matters is that you showed up. If you push yourself to immediately be exercising at the same intensity and frequency that you were at before, you
might wind up with an injury. Take your time, and try to be patient with yourself. You showed up, which is the hardest part.
Need some help figuring out a movement schedule that works for you? Let’s figure it out together. You can book a session to chat with me on this page!