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The importance of rest days

Rest days. For a gym addict one of the worst days of the week. And for the newbie one of the best. But we all know we need them for our bodies.

But how many rest days should you take? And what happens when we don’t take any rest? This post will teach you all you need to know about rest days!



Why?

Let’s start off with the most basic question: Why do we need rest days? During rest days our muscles can recover themselves from the micro damage that lifting weights does to them.

Microdamage may sound like a bad thing but it really isn’t, this is the way we make our muscles grow because they come back stronger.

During our sleep, the growth hormone (somatotropin) is the highest in the body.  When we don’t take rest this could lead to overtraining.

When?

So now we know why we need to take rest days. But when should you take them? There are a few different approaches to rest days, but there are also some general guidelines. Most beginners need a rest day after about 3 days of lifting.

If you are new to the gym and you feel like you need this sooner, do this! Listen to your body this is the most important thing to prevent injuries and overtraining. More experienced lifters can get away with a rest day once a week.

These rest days are regulated, there is also an approach called unregulated rest days.

Unregulated rest days are something for lifters who know their body pretty well. With this approach you workout until you feel like your body needs some rest.

So this might be after 4 days one week and the other week you feel like you need one after 6 days of training. It is important to know your body very well when doing this to prevent overtraining.



Overtraining

As mentioned before not taking enough rest could lead to overtraining. Symptoms are bad concentration, weight loss, loss of motivation and depressive feelings.

To cure this the best remedy is to take rest. In some cases, it is best to get some professional help to learn to cope with the stress that is also an important factor with over-training.

Deload week

A deload week is another important way to prevent overtraining. This week gives your body some rest to fully recover and get back on with your strength levels.

A deload week is a week where you lift lighter weight for fewer reps. So why the hell should you do this? Lifting heavy weights is extremely taxing on our nervous system. When we don’t take your rest serious this could lead to strength decrease and we are more prone to injuries.

General guidelines for deload weeks is to have one every eight weeks. As a guide, you could lift about 40-60% of your 1RM. Some people like to take their deload week as a week off of the gym.

So for example during a vacation, they won’t go to the gym at all. You can do this but taking a deload week where you still lift is better for your progress.

Conclusion

So we learned that resting is just as important as your lifting and nutrition. You can’t keep on making progress without proper resting time. If you are a bit more experienced you can take deregulated rest days, but this means that you need to know your body very well.

For beginners, I would recommend to take a rest day every 3 days or earlier if you feel you need it. The most important thing is to listen to your body if you feel like you need some more rest take it!