To get stronger you need to… rest?
Why are rest days needed and how do we best utilize a rest day?
Let’s start with the basics and go over the “why”. Why can’t I just smash my cardio and weights every day at 100%? Well, the obvious answer is overuse injuries. When we are pushing the body beyond its capacity for stress, we leave ourselves open to injuries. These injuries could be due to fatigue setting in – resulting in improper techniques, or due to tissue damage from repetitive stress over a prolonged period of time. This is when the training mentality such as “No Pain, No Gain” is harmful. Pushing the boundaries of our bodies is how we grow, but it takes familiarity with our bodies to know when it is too much. This means programming for your individual needs. We should not be extremely sore after every single workout.
If you are training at 110% every day, you are setting yourself up for injury.
When we are experiencing pain in the tendons or ligaments, this is our body’s way of communicating that we are pushing too hard.
Pay attention to your body and do not push through these warning signs. If you find that a particular exercise is irritating, avoid it. Instead, find a movement that still achieves the goals you are looking for, without further stressing the affected area.
While progressive overload is essential for building muscle strength and endurance, like most things in life, it is all about balance. Find your balance between pushing hard enough to make progress, but not pushing so hard that you are causing pain and injury. While more may seem better when you are working towards strengthening or bulking, injuries will obviously slow your progress in the long run.
Proper workout recovery is essential for a more complete picture of health.
When used correctly, rest days will keep you going longer and harder. Rest days are great for preventing injury and can also be utilized to incorporate techniques that are good for our mental health. A rest day does not mean sitting on the couch, eating potato chips, and watching Netflix for hours on end. A rest day can still be active. Gentle yoga, walking the dog, hiking outdoors, meditating, foam rolling, or other lower-impact activities are all great ways to keep your body moving on a rest day.
– Paige Raven (VRTX Fitness Trainer & Fitness Director)