Anyone that sets long-term fitness goals is going to experience a plateau in their training at some point. Plateaus can take place for quite a few reasons including an improper diet, a static exercise program, and even daily stress. What you might be surprised to hear is that you can also plateau because you are not taking off enough time from training. Scheduling regular rest periods in your workout program is one of the best ways to prevent injuries and continue seeing improvements.
Signs You Need a Rest Week
The benefits of a healthy sleep schedule are seen in study after study, but many people do not realize that they might not be giving their body enough rest even if they are sleeping well. A rigorous training program puts an incredible amount of strain on the human body including one’s organs and central nervous system. Techniques such as giving major muscle groups one full week of rest between workouts will reduce the amount of strain on your body, but it is not always enough
There could be some signs that you are overdue for a rest period of around a week or so. This amount of time is ideal for allowing one’s muscles to repair themselves and to achieve a hormonal balance once again. Chronic fatigue is typically the most common sign that you might need to take some time off from training. Other signs include an inconsistent sleep schedule, changes to one’s menstrual cycle, irritability, depression, and chronic injuries (especially around joints).
Planning for a Rest Cycle
How you organize your rest schedule will depend on a number of factors such as what you are training for, your level of fitness, and how hard you train. Those that are punishing their bodies with seven or more grueling exercises a week require will need frequent rest periods. A casual fitness enthusiast should consider a rest week every six to eight weeks. This will allow their body to adapt to all of the gains that they have made in the previous months and refocus their energy when they come back.
What Is a Rest Week?
A rest week does not necessarily mean that you must sit on the couch and do nothing at all. In fact, many people on their rest week still go to the gym. This week is about minimizing any strain on the body. The goal is to keep your heart rate relatively low and not damage your muscles whatsoever. Those that would like to still get in some work during this time should consider low-impact physical activities such as long stretches, yoga, short bike rides, and even a light weekend hike.