Your performance increases and your muscles grow while you rest.
If you find yourself stuck on a progress plateau, it might be because you don’t train enough. But it might also be because you don’t rest enough!
The following signs are telling you that you need to take a rest day…
1. You feel exhausted despite getting 6-9 hours of sleep per night
If you know you are getting enough sleep, but you still feel exhausted, sore, and fatigued, take a rest day or even two. Give your muscles a break and your mind a physical break from thinking about what workout you will do next. The real transformation of your body happens during sleep and while resting – be sure to give your body what it needs to see real results.
2. You want to train but your muscles are still sore after 2-3 days
Sometimes if you train a particular muscle group intensely, it can be sore up to 2 days later. This is called delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS. You might know this feeling after not training your legs for a while and then doing an intense leg day full of lunges and squats.
If you planned to train that muscle group two days later, but you’re still sore – change your schedule. Training when your muscles are really sore makes it harder for you to maintain good form and do your best. Give the muscles time to fully recover and rebuild before they are broken down again with exercise. If the soreness is severe, take a rest day or work a different muscle group. If it’s mild, do a good warm up and don’t hit the same muscles hard again.
3. You keep drinking water but aren’t feeling hydrated
Do you feel like you keep drinking water but cannot seem to feel satisfied or hydrated? This can be related to insufficient fluid intake or even hot weather, but it can also be due to the fact that you’re training very hard and need to give your body time to rest, restore, and rehydrate. It could be that your body is in a catabolic state, which means it’s actually wasting away. A symptom of this is dehydration.
Thirst is your body’s last signal that it needs water. Be sure to drink water regularly even when you might not feel particularly thirsty.
4. You already trained 5 or 6 days this week
REST! You already did a lot of good for your body – now let it rest and recover.
5. You felt slow and weak in your last 2 workouts
Of course you can’t be strong every day. But once you start to notice that your usual workouts seem much harder than they normally do, it’s time to take a break. A good rule of thumb is: if you don’t feel any better after your warm-up, you are probably too tired for the workout.
6. You are cranky
Every little thing seems to irritate you? Or you feel like anxiety keeps creeping around every corner and you just can’t relax? When you body is drained of energy from too many workouts you might notice that you’re cranky. Before you take it out on someone else, reconsider your training schedule and try to get at least one rest day and one night of good sleep before doing another workout.
The solution: Stay active on your rest day
Sometimes sitting and doing nothing can make the soreness even worse. Get outside for some fresh air and move a little bit; you’ll feel much better and a bit more energized. Pair that with a great night’s sleep and you should be good to go.