So…you have been CRUSHING it in the gym.
Heavy weights AND high reps? Pshh…please.
HIIT cardio to keep that sexy hourglass figure? Uh, duh.
One problem – you feel like crap, and don’t look much better. All of that winning in the gym has left you wiped, and you don’t know how to properly rest your body…tisk tisk.
Let’s quickly cover what constitutes rest, and why it is so important to continue getting bigger, faster and stronger. A “rest day” is any given day during the week that you do not actively stress your CNS (central nervous system) and/or tear down muscle tissue. Why are these days so crucial? Well…that’s when you actually build muscle…
That’s right! You’re not actually building those big sexy muscles in the gym. In fact, you damage your muscles in the gym. This tells your body to repair them and make them stronger for next time. For your body to do this though, it needs proper rest and nutrition (we will chat about nutrition next time). According to an article in Strength and Conditioning Journal, A Multidemensional Approach to Enhancing Recovery, “The main functions of the recovery period are: normalization of functions, normalization of homeostatic equilibrium, replenishment and temporary supercompensation of energy resources, and reconstructive functions.” In short, rest is pretty damn important.
Now, what do we do with this information? We ask ourselves an honest question – are we sweating and grunting in the gym simply because we love being there? Or are we also looking to grow? If we want to grow (we both know you do), then we need to implement rest days. Period.
How many rest days do we need each week? Each month? Good question, but not such a simple answer. This will depend on your age, genetics, training intensity, training goals, nutrition and more. In a 2018 study published in Frontiers in Physiology, researchers studied two groups of healthy young males complete a 12 week weightlifting program. Group 1 rested 24 hours between training sessions, and Group 2 rested 48-72 hours between sessions. Changes in strength, body composition and red blood cells were observed. The result? Unclear…both groups presented similar improvements in all categories.
Per usual, we find there is no one size fits all answer. Train intuitively and listen to your body. If you are feeling run down, achy or unmotivated…take a rest day. Your gains will thank you.