As a personal trainer, I’m a huge advocate for doing something active every single day. This is what our bodies are designed to do, move each day. But that doesn’t mean bash, crash, high-intensity. Both our body and our mind require different types of activity and recovery. When you exercise, especially when resistance is involved, you break your body tissues down by causing microscopic tears. Having a rest day gives your muscles, nerves, bones and connective tissue time to rebuild and recover so you can go again.
There are some obvious signs that you might be overdoing it on the training front so if you’re experiencing any of the below, it might be time to trade the cross-trainer for the couch.
EXTENDED MUSCLE SORENESS
It’s normal to be sore for a day or so after a workout. However, if you’re sore for longer than two or three days then this could indicate that your muscles just aren’t recovering the way they’re meant to. Listen to your body, have a rest and allow your muscles to rebuild before getting back into your workouts. I love to foam roll, use a massage ball or even get a massage when my muscles need some loosening.
YOU’RE GETTING SICK MORE OFTEN
When you over train, your immune system suffers. If your body’s resources are spent trying to recover rather than fight off illness, you’re way more likely to get sick.
LACK OF MOTIVATION
If your passion for working out has gone completely out the window, it might be a sign that you’re overdoing it. Intense workouts day in and day out don’t just stress your body, they stress your mind too. If your workouts don’t have variety, it won’t stimulate your mind and you’re less likely to want to get up and exercise.
If getting up off the couch for an afternoon run seems as daunting as climbing Mount Everest, your mind and body might be feeling stressed from your workout regime.
Taking a break or temporarily switching to a different exercise activity may help you rebuild your motivation.
If you feel completely drained, downright exhausted or just generally sluggish, this fatigue can definitely be due to overdoing it with your training. If you have low energy from training and you continue to train, you’re going to be draining your bodies energy stores.
READY FOR A REST DAY?
With all those factors in mind, I hope you can now see the importance of having a rest day. If you’re not one to sit around and Netflix all day, you don’t need to be couch bound to recover. In fact, I still recommend you get moving and enjoy an active rest day. Go on a short walk with a friend, have a good stretch or even have a gentle swim at the local pool.
The older I get, the more I understand that I need to train smarter not harder and that less can be more. I have a greater focus on making my more intense workouts count but doing less of them, and I’ve found my performance has never been better adopting this attitude.