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When Should I Take a Rest Day?

What is a rest day?

A rest day refers to a day that is reserved for a break from high-intensity training to allow the body and mind to recover. 

Why are rest days important?

The most important variable of training is intensity.  Without high intensity like lifting heavy, running fast, or completing as many reps as possible there will not be substantial gains made through training.  Rest days allow the body and mind to recover from this high-intensity training to ensure that when training is resumed all sessions will be performed at high intensity.  Rather than continue to degrade as training goes on, take a rest day and get back to full speed to keep the progress coming. 

How often should rest days be taken?

Athletes participating in high-intensity exercise take 1-2 rest days per week assuming they are training 4-5 days per week.  The rest day schedule is very dependent on an individual’s schedule of training. A couple of options that tend to work well are 3 days of training followed by 1 day of rest or 5 days of training followed by 2 days of rest.  These options work well for athletes that can train multiple days in a row.  If life tends to get in the way and your schedule requires a day of rest between every day of training, then take advantage and hit it hard every session.   

What should be done on a rest day?

Rest days are great for a long low impact aerobic workout and mobility work.  Examples of this include a long walk or casual bike ride and a few static stretches or a relaxing yoga routine.  While this is ideal sometimes just taking a full day to rest the body and let the mind recharge is the best way to prepare for the next training session.  Always listen to your body and give it some time to recover so you can keep pushing the pace.

Ryan Walker

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