When you’re trying to work on your fitness and reach new heights in your physical and mental health, the emphasis really seems to be on the exercise you’re doing. That’s perfectly fine since all that hard work is going to be what gets you where you need to be. What a huge amount of people tend to forget, however, is the importance of rest days in your training and what they can do to help you to reach your goals; in the long and the short term.

There’s more to rest days than just taking days off too, and there are actually a lot of different ways to go about them. We'll get onto all of that soon though, so let's start with the basics.


Want to move fast? Jump to the right section below.


What are Rest Days?

A rest day is generally a day off from your training. It doesn't mean you have to spend the day in bed or anything like that, but it does mean that you should take time out from all of the hard work, heavyweights and solid performance that you are putting in. That's the only way that you will see all of the fruits of your hard work at the end of it all. Safely too.

Why Do You Need Them?

So, why do you actually need them? Surely taking time off will only slow your results in the long run? That's definitely not the case. Your rest days are vital for many reasons.

One of the biggest is that rest days are what give your body time to apply all of the changes you want to make. When you're lifting weights in the aim of hypertrophy, your muscles don't just grow instantly. Your body needs time to repair the tissue you've damaged, and create or build upon cells. That's how you build muscle, and it takes time. If you don't give your body this time before you hit it again, nothing will change.

Safety is paramount in your training too, and rest days are the only way that you can make sure you're on the ball. This rest is what gives your body time to repair as well as relax. Overtraining is one of the easiest ways to injure yourself and your progress, both long and short term. Too much training is actually one of the worst things you can do (so watch out for it with these signs).

What Should You Do?

So if staying in bed all day might not always be the answer, then what is? Sadly, there’s no one answer to that. It all comes down to you, what you train for, and what it is that you enjoy doing. That’s what matters at the end of the day.

Active Rest Days

active-rest-day

One of the most popular ways to spend your rest days is by using active rest. That means you still remain active and you’re still being healthy, but not training as you usually do. Instead of weight training all week, why not take a couple of days out to catch up with friends and go for a walk or go and play a sport for a change of pace. Even taking a leisurely walk or hike can be an awesome way to help your health while giving your muscles a break that they need. It's not all just sitting, sleeping and eating.

Time Out

time-out-rest-day

On the other hand, it absolutely can be those things. Sometimes, to keep giving everyday life and training your best shot, you just need some downtime. We all do, no matter who we are. Sometimes, sitting in bed, reading a book or binge-watching TV is just what the doctor ordered. You need to find the balance in life to be happy, and if training is getting in the way of some things you enjoy, now is your time to catch up. Do whatever you feel like. Life is more than just exercise, and rest days are a day to rest your mind and your body. Do what you feel like!

Ultimately, rest days are whatever you make of them. You can find new ways to keep healthy and active and enjoy your time off, or you can catch up on some sleep or watch a new show. The ball is in your court, and you know what best to do with your time. For more about all this, check our 11 do's and don'ts of rest days too!


man doing lunges

Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. Exercise.co.uk assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.

If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.