If you’ve done any of our fitness challenges, you’ll see that we always schedule days for recovery throughout the month. There’s a reason why we do that. Recovery days are very important. Often times when people are eager and motivated to reach their goals, they’ll try to get there faster by stacking up intense workouts one day after the other until they’re working out almost every day of the week and giving themselves no time to recover. While I can always appreciate someone’s enthusiasm to reach their goals, I know that everyone has a limit for what their bodies can handle.
The main reason why you need to take recovery days is that your muscles need time to recover and repair. Working out creates microscopic tears in your muscles, breaking down your body tissue. Giving your body time to repair and rebuild that muscle tissue is how you get stronger. On the other hand, not giving yourself time to heal up can lead to muscle fatigue and potential injury. In other words, overtraining can actually be more of a setback than a step forward.
Believe it or not, overtraining can also impact your sleep negatively. And of course, a significant part of recovery time is happening while you sleep. So if overtraining starts to ruin your quality of sleep, you’re in for a vicious cycle of working hard but not maximizing on the gains that you could be making. Remember: work smart, not harder.
While not giving yourself time to recover can impinge on your physical progress, it can also affect your mental state. You might find that you’re more stressed out, often in a bad mood, or that you’re struggling to concentrate. As you can imagine, if you’re struggling to concentrate, then your performance during a workout will also suffer. Everything is connected.
How often you take your rest days or when you take them is all based on the types of workouts that are in your routine. A rest day doesn’t have to mean that you sit on a couch, though. Feel free to do low-impact exercises on rest days—walk, swim, bike, do yoga, stretch, maybe even meditate? But no matter what level of fitness you’re at, know that recovery days are just as important as working out, and everyone needs to take them!