We all know it's important to rest, but sometimes you just want to move! So, how often should I take a complete rest day? We take a look at the best advice.
Some professional athletes can train up to 40 hours a week without over-exerting themselves. However, someone who is just getting into fitness should take it easy and listen to their body. Think about how long you've been training and how often you usually train. If you are pushing yourself harder than usual, make sure you're not going over your limit. Everyone is different and should follow training plans designed specifically for them; what works for one person might not work for you. If you know that you can train for a week straight without taking a rest day, you should be fine. However, as soon as your results start to suffer and your training is not as efficient as usual, this is when you need to take a complete rest day.
How do your legs feel?
We've all suffered the dreaded DOMS at one point in our lives. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness is the result of strenuous activity and the leg muscles being torn through exertion and then repairing themselves to become bigger and stronger. Whether you've got DOMS from a tough gym session or a big bike ride, it is never advisable to train again on sore legs. If you are really itching to get back out there, read our article on how to reduce DOMS in the legs. It is possible to injure yourself if you overtrain when you have DOMS, so this is usually a sign that you need a complete rest day.
Are you sleeping well?
A study by the National Sleep Foundation found that 150 minutes of exercise per week (30 minutes per day over 5 days) is all it takes to improve the quality of your sleep. However, one of the first signs that you need a rest day is if you are not sleeping well. If you have been exercising consistently without a rest day for more than 5 days and you find you are not sleeping well, you should take a complete rest day to let your body properly recover.
Do you feel like you have the energy you need?
Whatever your motivations to train, forcing yourself to get out there when energy levels are low can be a real blow to morale. There are ways you can eat to boost your energy or, if you feel like you have plenty of energy at the start of the day but then soon become lacklustre, here are 4 ways to boost your energy from the experts at Harvard. If you are feeling very sluggish, this may well be a sign that you need a complete rest day. Never force yourself to do a training session that you really don't want to do, so long as the rest of the time your training is consistent.
What are the signs of overtraining?
Do you know what the signs of overtraining are? If not, read our article on overtraining. If you're still unsure on why rest days are important, read our article on fitness recovery and the importance of rest days.
If you do feel like you might be getting injured, here are our tips for dealing with running injuries.