With the government changing the lockdown rules to allow ‘unlimited exercise’ and the excitement of all your favourite trainers hitting up IG live for free workouts every 2 hours, it’s easy to fall into the trap of crushing workout after workout – leaving your body feeling seriously over-trained! But working out is healthy, so is this really such a bad thing? Whilst yes, getting plenty of movement is great for looking after your mental health and keeping your body fit and strong, taking on too many daily HIIT workouts and running endless miles can start to take its toll on your body…
Feeling tired, sore and irritable? Struggling to sleep and feeling hungry ALL the time? Hello exhaustion! If you’re suffering from any of these symptoms, it might be time to take a good look at your workout schedule and consider whether you’re getting enough down-time - remember, quality over quantity! If you’re not already convinced, here’s just some of the ways you can benefit from prioritising your rest days…
Aids Muscle Recovery & Growth
Adding rest days into your workout schedule is a little like taking a couple of days off from your job on the weekend. To progress your career, your mind needs the time to switch off after working so hard during the week, and when we sometimes have to skip that precious time off, we see burnout strike and our performance starts to suffer. So why don’t we apply this same principle to our physical health? When you’re training hard 4-5 times a week, you need to give yourself time to rest and recover.
Why? When we exercise, we create tiny tears in our muscle tissues. During rest, our body is able to repair these tears, helping our muscles to heal and therefore grow and become stronger. Making sure to also consume plenty of protein is also a key part of good recovery, as it’s the amino acids in proteins that are responsible for repairing those tears. So just because you’re taking a day off from the gym, doesn’t mean you can forget about sipping on that daily shake!
Reduce Your Risk of Injury
One of the most common symptoms of over-training is suffering from regular niggles and injuries. Not only are you more likely to compromise your form or misjudge a step when your body is tired and overworked, but you’re also exposing yourself to a higher chance of repetitive stress and strain injuries. Especially if you’re a running fanatic or HIIT enthusiast, this huge amount of impact is a sure-fire way to end up hurt. In the long run, getting injured will mean you’ll need lengthy and frustrating periods of recovery where you’re forced to stop training, so prioritise your rest now to keep on doing what you love!
Boosts Sleep Quality
You probably already know that regular exercise can be hugely beneficial for a good night’s sleep, yet that doesn’t mean you can’t have too much of a good thing! Yes, that extra workout is likely to leave you exhausted, but it can also cause your body to overproduce the cortisol and adrenaline hormones, making it hard to fall asleep and affecting the quality of your shuteye. One bad night is frustrating enough but when you start suffering with this on a regular basis, you’ll end up stuck in an emotionally draining cycle of fatigue and irritability. So, get in that recovery day to make sure you’re resting easy at night.
Improves Athletic Performance
It’s no coincidence that after going away for the weekend and taking a few days off, you often come back to your workouts full of energy, smashing out way more reps than you had the previous week.
When we don’t give our bodies time to recover or are suffering from exhaustion, it can be hard to get through the day at work, let alone perform at our best whilst exercising. You might find yourself going through the moves of your favourite spin class with no motivation to push any harder, or struggling to run more than a mile, feeling like your legs are made from lead. You might experience slower reaction times and decreased endurance too. So, don’t be scared of taking a couple of days off! You won’t undo all your progress in a day or two, in fact, it will likely have the opposite effect.
So remember, if you’re struggling to make progress with your workouts and feel like you’ve hit a plateau, swap your 7am boxing class for a chilled morning of Netflix with a big bowl of protein oats – doctor’s orders!