Should I Take A Rest Day?
In Short, the answer is yes. If you have to ask if you should take a rest day, then you probably need one. I love spending time in the gym as much as anyone, but the law of diminishing returns also applies to fitness, more is not always more. The law of diminishing returns is, as the amount of time, effort, or money you put into something goes up so does the results to a certain point. It gets to a point when the results will level off and can often lessen as the time, effort, or money you put in gets to be too much. So why should you take a rest day? lets explore a few reasons.
1. Physical fatigue
Accumulated physical fatigue is going to be a primary reason for taking a rest day. Exercising makes your body and muscles tired. As you workout day after day the total amount of fatigue builds up and your performance begins to decrease. Taking a rest day gives your muscles a chance to recover and grow so you will be able to put greater effort into your workouts.
2. Mental Fatigue
Mental fatigue and stress is another thing we have to be considerate of. Working out not only stresses the body, it also stresses the mind. It is not realistic for a normal person to spend all of their free time of every day in the gym. We have jobs and kids and other responsibilities. Our other responsibilities add to the total amount of stress that we are under and it gets to a point when you can be so stressed and tired that we can't put the effort into a workout to make it effective. Sometimes if you don't feel like working out that day it's best to take a rest day. However, this does not mean you should take a day off every time you don't feel like working out. Exercise has been shown to have many positive effects on stress and depression and doing a quick workout can make you feel better. Taking this type of rest day going to have to be your own judgement call. No one knows you better than you.
3. Neuromuscular Fatigue
We have all experienced physical and mental fatigue so we know what that feels like and it's easy to describe and explain. Neuromuscular fatigue, on the other hand, is not. The best way to try and explain it is with an example. Have you ever went for a back squat or a snatch and the weight felt way heavier than it should have and your body didn't move like normal and your balance was off and it just felt awkward? That is neuromuscular fatigue. Your brain is tired and having a hard time sending messages to your muscles telling them how to perform what you are asking it to do. In this situation it is probably best that you take a rest day and give yourself time to recover. If you insist on working out anyway I would recommend going for a run, ruck (walk, hike, or run with a weighted pack or vest), or other activity that doesn't require a lot of focus.
Taking a rest day might seem like a wasted day, but taking at least one or two rest days a week will reduce total fatigue and prevent injures in the gym and allow you to train harder and in the long run will help improve your progress and results.