Don’t Be Afraid To Rest

How much should I rest between workouts

Whether you’re working out for health, shape, happiness or strength, everyone wants to look and feel a certain way and would prefer to reach their goal quickly.

The key thing to remember is that when you’re in the process of working your muscles, rest is just as important as reps and if you don’t have rest days you can end up overtraining.

What does overtraining mean?

If you over train (which means not leaving enough rest and recovery time between workouts) you will end up suffering from decreased performance, elevated blood pressure, decreased immunity, disturbed sleep and many more symptoms.

If you’re lifting weights or taking part, for instance, in HIIT you will at some point have a soreness to your muscles which in effect is damage to the fibres. During rest periods your muscles have time to recover into stronger formations and increase in size. To cut a long story short, your muscles develop and get stronger outside of the gym.

What is the best amount of rest time?

Some research suggests that muscle soreness can peak two days after exercise so a minimum of 48 hours of rest is optimal to allow recovery and prevent injury. Other experts suggest 3 days whilst some say eight hours of good sleep is enough.

With so many mixed messages my advice would be allow one to two days depending on if you’re a beginner or experienced.

There are other factors to consider when it comes to determining adequate rest. Those who are older, for instance, may experience slower muscle recovery and growth. Other factors to think about are how often and how intensely you work out, the duration of exercise and what you eat. What I do know for sure is that some amount of rest is crucial to enhance fitness and strength and keep symptoms of overtraining at bay.

Rest time doesn’t mean sitting on the sofa all day

Your muscles don’t need to take a total break to fully recover. Post-workout exercise such as swimming, walking, light jogging, pilates or yoga can actually increase muscle relaxation, which in turn benefits recovery.

You can also look at other treatments to speed recovery such as heat pads or massage. Look at what you’re eating and include adequate amounts of protein post-workout.

Whilst I can’t give you a magic formula to calculate the amount of rest you need, I can state that you must take into account your fitness level, intensity, frequency and duration. Look for signs that your body needs a break such as chronic muscle or joint soreness and impaired physical performance. Make sure you recognise the difference between pain and soreness but most of all……….do not be afraid to take some time off.

Katie Tomkins
Top Local Trainer Author
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