1.2.2021 – The Importance of Rest
The Importance of Rest
by Traveling Trainer Rebekah Fasel
January 2, 2020 – Fitness programs usually come with a schedule, and for some people part of the struggle may be fitting in the required number of sessions per week. However, just as important as getting in your workouts is remembering to schedule and stick to your rest days. Although we generally think that more is better when it comes to exercise, at a certain point that not only ceases to be true but can in fact be counterproductive. Resting is an integral part of the fitness process, allowing the body to recover from hard work, preventing injury, and even improving performance. How much rest you need depends on your fitness level, with beginners needing more to start with, and on the level of exertion required by your workout.
Exercising, especially notable during weight or resistance training, causes muscle fatigue. This feels like sore, tired muscles, but is actually a process in which muscle fibers tear slightly at a microscopic level. Cells called fibroblasts create the structure of our muscles, and when they are exerted the result is many tiny tears. Resting gives your fibroblasts time to not only repair these tears, but to rebuild the muscle framework with more strength and density. Rest is therefore an incredibly important part of bodybuilding, or of simply growing stronger muscles. Rest also encourages optimal performance, as any task is easier to perform in the absence of extreme fatigue.
However, there is more danger to skipping rest days than just the threat of cheating yourself out of potential results. Overexertion and overtraining may even result in injury or disrupted sleep patterns. Too fatigued muscles may cease to function properly, encouraging bad form which leads to injury. Safe movement patterns depend on muscles working in synchronization with each other, and when some or even one muscle is overtired, others will step in to help, over time resulting in postural chain imbalances. There is also the much more mundane, but still serious, risk of dropping a weight on yourself out of fatigue. Further, exercise produces hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, which play a very important part in energy consumption and balance. However, too much exercise will lead to too many of these hormones, making it difficult to sleep at night and leading to further fatigue.
How much rest you need is personal and certainly depends on your fitness level. Most people find that as they gain strength and endurance they need less rest overall to return to peak performance. It is safe to say, however, that if you are experiencing exhaustion, extreme fatigue, or much soreness, you will be doing yourself a favor by giving yourself time to recover instead of pushing immediately through your next workout. So, don’t feel any guilt about not doing more work…enjoy your day off and know you are doing the absolute best thing for your body!