Blog, Fitness

How Many Rest Days Do I Really Need?

Whatever your fitness goals is, rest is just as important as training and nutrition. I think about it as an equal three way split. Often people invest into a training plan and are very considered about their food choices, but they completely forget to adjust their rest and sleep schedule.

What happens if you don’t get enough rest and recovery time?

Firstly, your body won’t adapt to and your results will plateau, you won’t be able to get any stronger or faster. Secondly, if you consistently train without enough recovery time, you will start to lose strength, your immune system will suffer and your energy levels will crash too. Rest is essential.

Often, I hear people in the wellness industry telling us that we should move our bodies everyday. I completely agree with this, however many people think that ‘moving’ has to be working out, training, running etc. Movement can also be just walking or stretching. On my rest days, I’ll do some mobility stretches and foam roll my legs and back.

How much rest do I need?

Everyone’s body is different and it depends on both the intensity of your training, as well as the duration. This year I am training for endurance, and so as my weekly miles increase, my rest and sleep will increase too. As for ‘rest days’ there is no set amount that is right or wrong but unfortunately most people aren’t resting enough.

Here are a few signs that you need to rest and sleep more…

  1. You wake up after a long nights sleep but you still feel tired and drained.
    Often people will try to mask this problem by drinking coffee each morning. If you’re still feeling tired after sleeping for seven to eight hours, it could be a sign that you’re overtraining. Consistent poor sleep will weaken your immune system, and will also have a negative effect on your hormones and mood.
  2. Your morning pee is dark yellow.
    This is a sign that your body is dehydrated. It is important to drink water before, during and after exercise. If you’re exercising for an hour or more, a long run for example, then you will lose lots of fluid and salt. We need to rehydrate to recover.
  3. You have injuries and pain.
    If you’re exercising regularly then you can expect some aches and pains sometimes. However, if you often get injuries, or you have one injury that isn’t getting any better, you’re probably not getting enough rest. Rest and particularly sleep, is the quickest way for your body to heal. Give yourself a break!
  4. Your resting heart rate is elevated.
    If you have a wearable fitness tracker, you can track your resting heart rate. If your resting heart rate is high, this is a sign of stress on the body. This could be physical or emotional stress. I tough workout puts your body under stress but so does a bad day at work or worrying about a deadline. Meditation, breathing techniques and walking can help to reduce stress, so maybe skip your workout and go out for a long walk instead.

Personally, I try to be flexible with your training schedule, our lives are all mega busy and sometime your need to adapt the plan. I often do my long run at the weekend, it can be either Saturday or Sunday, I then adjust my rest days too. Listen to you body, it knows when you need to rest. Prioritising rest could be the key to improving your fitness and reaching your goals.