Are Rest Days Important? 5 Red Flags That May Mean You’re Pushing Yourself Too Hard
When you get into that glorious fitness groove, you can honestly feel invincible. Those exercise-induced endorphins feel f*cking amazing, and all your hard work has your body feeling strong and healthy AF. After beasting it up at SoulCycle two mornings in a row, you might even start to wonder: Are rest days important?
As amazing as you feel after conquering a five-day fitness challenge, rest days are, indeed, absolutely crucial to a healthy fitness regimen. Taking time off from the gym (one to two days, according to the experts) gives your muscles a chance to repair themselves, and doing so prevents pesky injuries, as well as over-training.
In fact, rest days can be even more crucial than your most intense sweat sesh, because of your muscles' need to repair the natural damage that going hard in the gym brings.
But sometimes you give yourself that recommended one day off, and yet you still feel like you got run over by that guy going too hard on the stationary bike.
So, in the name of listening to your body, here are five red flags that will tell you that you aren't taking enough days off from the #gains.
1. You're Straight Up Exhausted
This might seem like a no-brainer, but it can be all too easy to ignore signs of exhaustion that come with going too hard at the gym.
If you're having trouble getting some shut-eye, that could also be a sign you're over-training.
When your muscles are trying to heal from a workout and you don't let them, your central nervous system could become overstimulated.
Lack of sleep can lead to worsened immunity, reaction time, endurance, and cognitive functions -- which will seriously impact your fitness routine in the long run.
Rest up, baby!
2. Your Resting Heart Rate Is Above Normal
A simple way to gauge over-training is to check your heart rate by taking your pulse.
If you know where it's usually at, and it's above normal, this means your body is a bit stressed out, and you should sit back, relax, and skip the gym for the day.
3. You're Moody Or Irritable
Usually, exercise releases endorphins that naturally boost your mood and make you feel good. But a red flag that indicates over-training is mental fatigue and moodiness. It can even feel like a terrible hangover if you're really pushing yourself past the limit.
Avoid the HIIT hangover and give yourself an extra rest day. You'll come back with much more energy, ready to slay your sweat sesh with ease.
4. You Get Sick
Having a regular workout routine can help boost your immune system and prevent pesky colds.
But too much of a good thing can lead to flu-like symptoms. Overtraining can even put your body in a “continual catabolic state,” which means you're bound to catch a cold.
If you're sick, it's best to sit out that usual a.m. SoulCycle class.
5. You're Always Sore
That post-leg-day soreness is natural (naturally deadly, amirite?), but if you feel like your body is never recovering, add another rest day to your routine.
Studies show that muscles take about 24 to 72 hours to recover, so if your bod continues to ache past that 72-hour mark, it's time for some major TLC.
Above all, always be honest with yourself, listen to your body, and take however much time you need to rest up.