Fitness, Fitness Tips, Quick Tips, Workouts

Why Rest Days Are So Important

rest day

Most people look for any excuse NOT to workout.

Me, I go through my day trying to find any excuse TO workout and sometimes even how I can workout twice.

Which mentality is better? The answer is neither!

A couple weeks ago I was talking with a friend about our current exercise routines. We both work out 6x/ week admittedly to almost an obsessive level where we feel guilty taking days off fearing that it will hinder our progress. 

Are we crazy? Yes, probably!

Is skipping 1 workout to go to happy hour with friends really going to make you gain 10 lbs? Absolutely not!

In fact sometimes taking a rest day can be more beneficial than forcing a workout! Rest days are so important to allow your body to recover and build itself back stronger than ever! Skipping necessary rest days can actually lead to very harmful side effects and dramatically increases your risk for developing an injury!

Let’s discuss further!

rest day

How to know if you’re over training?

When I was training for my marathon I got to a point where I knew I was pushing my body too hard. I wasn’t sleeping, I was getting sick all the time, I developed crippling anxiety and just felt exhausted. 

All these symptoms are part of something called over-training syndrome where you push your body far past it’s ability to recover.

Crystal Reeves, a NASM certified master trainer describes over-training syndrome best:

“When you perform excessive amounts of exercise without proper rest and recovery you may experience some harmful side effects including decreased performance, fatigue, altered hormonal states, poor sleeping patterns, reproductive disorders, decreased immunity, loss of appetite, and mood swings.”*

YEP! Pretty spot on!

So, why are rest days so important?

Resistance training/ weight lifting:

When you do resistance training you are breaking down your muscles actually causing small tears in them. Rest days are necessary to allow your body to recover and rebuild itself. If you do not allow your body this rest time you will never allow yourself to get stronger. Pretty simple!

Running/ cardio:

Even though when your running you aren’t necessarily directly breaking down muscles you are still putting stress of your joints, muscles and bones. In excess this stress has the ability to actually crack bones and tighten muscles leading to bone spurs, shin splints, muscle tears, stress fractures…etc.*

Giving your body time to recover will help prevent injuries and help you become stronger and faster than ever. Take it from me who suffers from AWFUL shin splints…these recovery days are beyond necessary!

rest day

How many rest days should I have per week?

There really isn’t an answer I can give here because everyone is different.

I personally only take 1 real rest day then have 1 other day where I do gentle yoga to stretch my muscles.

A general rule to think about is allowing AT LEAST 1 day of rest before working out the same or similar muscles again. However, it usually takes 48 hours for your muscles to recover and full recovery may even take up to 72-96 hours post workout.*

This is why having variety in your workouts is so important. If you want 6-pack abs guess what you can’t just do abs 5x/ week. Do a full workout dedicated to really breaking down your abdominal muscles then wait a few days maybe doing a shoulder and leg workout before doing abs again. Otherwise you will never give your abs the proper time to rebuild themselves stronger than ever!


But I really just can’t rest…I get too anxious!

You and me both.

The struggle is real.

Rest days are my hardest days. I love exercise to help with stress relief and just provide structure in my life. When I get a rest day I seriously don’t even know what to do with myself.

Something that has really helped me is changing my mindset from thinking of these days as “rest days” to “recovery days”.

These days are dedicated to stretching, foam rolling, icing, short walks to loosen tight muscles…etc. Thinking of these days as “recovery days” really helps remind me that I am doing my body good by allowing it to rest and recover.


Your Turn,

Do you struggle with taking rest days?

How many rest days do you take in a week?

Have you ever experienced any symptoms of over training?



Linking up with Fitful Focus for Fit & Fashionable Friday!

Fitful Focus



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  • Reply shaniece September 9, 2016 at 6:48 am

    At the beginning of me working out regularly it was extremely hard for me to take a day off because I wanted results. The more I worked out everyday I realized that my body needed to slow down and most of all it needed rest. My body started to feel weak, that is my signal to STOP. Listening to your body is key!
    shaniece recently posted…Labor Day Sale!!!My Profile

    • Reply Diana Becker September 9, 2016 at 10:55 am

      I remember you killing yourself every single day! I agree listening to your body is the most important thing. Exercise should never make you feel weak, anxious, sick, tired…etc. You should feel strong, powerful and energized 🙂

  • Reply Nicole @ Fitful Focus September 9, 2016 at 10:36 am

    Rest is so important! I almost always take a rest day the day after my long runs to give my muscles a break, but I’m with you in that I get antsy. I can’t just sit around, so my rest days are usually “active rest” meaning I’ll go for a nice walk or a leisurely bike ride.
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    • Reply Diana Becker September 9, 2016 at 10:56 am

      Oh same! After a long run it’s 1000% a recovery day. I’ve never understood how people can run 20 miles then like 8 the next day. My legs would be screaming at me.

  • Reply rachel @ athletic avocado September 9, 2016 at 4:03 pm

    I do struggle with taking rest days but I always feel better when I do! They are so so so important!
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    • Reply Diana Becker September 12, 2016 at 10:24 am

      Same! It always feels great after a rest day (or two) to crush a workout since you’re body is rested and energized!

  • Reply Danielle @ Wild Coast Tales September 23, 2016 at 12:27 pm

    I’ve found marathon training to be such a good lesson in over-training and the importance of rest days and recovery, because you REALLY notice when you don’t properly recover! It has definitely forced me to be more serious about rest.

    I run easier 1-2 days a week and take 1 full day of rest where I’ll just go on a long walk to shake out my legs and do stretching/foam rolling, etc.
    Danielle @ Wild Coast Tales recently posted…Fear, Limiting Beliefs, and Self-Ownership: Thoughts on Running and GoalsMy Profile

    • Reply Diana Becker September 23, 2016 at 1:12 pm

      I’m 3 months post marathon and am just now finally feeling like my body has fully recovered. It’s just insane how much your body can break down when you don’t take proper rest days…lesson learned!

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