Rest Days Aren’t Optional

I used to over-train. I used to go hard in the gym 7 days a week with hardly ANY rest days. Not cool. I used to HATE rest days, become anxious about them and feel guilty for not working out. I now LOVE rest days. You’re supposed to be working out and eating right because you RESPECT your body and because you LOVE your body and your health, not because you’re punishing it. That’s not okay. I learned the hard way. I now have 1-3 rest days per week depending on my training style at the time and how heavy I’m lifting at the time. I have been averaging 2-3 full on rest days per week (not cardio days, TRUE rest days) and have never felt better. I usually get in 4 weight lifting days and will usually do two days of moderate, short cardio, often one day on its own and one after an arm day. That leaves me 2-3 rest days per week. And I’m loving it. You don’t have to kill yourself to be healthy, happy, and balanced. It actually HELPS to give yourself time to rest and recover. It always gets me itching to go back and KILL IT in the gym. The more I embrace my rest days without anxiety over feeling like “I should have gone to the gym today,” the more enthusiasm I have when I DO workout. Balance, rest and recovery are SO incredibly important. I did have to learn the hard way, and my body couldn’t be happier that I am now listening to it and treating it well because I love and respect it. Let’s love and respect our bodies ladies and gents – it couldn’t be more important!

Day 9 of 21 Days of Health

The Importance of Rest Days

How many days a week do you take as rest days?

Those that do not take rest days or that use rest days as high intensity cardio training days will likely burn out, overtrain, or both.

Symptoms of Overtraining:

  • Fatigue, lack of energy, tired
  • Soreness – especially in joints
  • Slow to recover
  • Decrease in performance
  • Irritable
  • Decreased immune system

Most elite, professional athletes (whom often take things that help speed up recovery – topic for another day) take at least one full rest day off per week. For the average fitness-conscious gym goer, at least one COMPLETE off day is needed per week, with another one or two days of light crosstraining or cardio (incline treadmill walking, light biking) per week. How many days of intense weight training & cardio does that give you? Four. Does this seem like WAY TOO LITTLE? I hope not! Rest days need to be planned into your program just like your workouts and meals do. No skipping rest days, they’re much too important!

Recipe for success:

  • 3-4 days of weight lifting per week
  • 1-2 days of intense cardio
  • 1-2 days of light, moderate exercise (active rest)
  • 1 day (at least) COMPLETELY off

Why rest?

  • MUSCLE BUILDING happens when you rest and recover
  • Prevent overtraining
  • Keep enthusiasm high
  • Find balance between fitness, work, and home life
  • Allow glycogen stores to refuel
  • Repair tissues
  • Keep our bodies guessing
  • Prevent injury
  • Prevent too much cortisol (stress hormone) from being released & building up


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How many days/wk do you do active rest?

How many days/wk do you take a FULL day off of TRUE rest?

Have you ever overtrained?

Do you like rest days or have a hard time with them?


  1. Comment by Felicia:

    agree 100%! great post and reminder that rest is equally as important as going hard in the gym. lately ive been doing two COMPLETE rest days, with one active rest day and the rest heavy weights (and like you, some cardio if i have time or its an arm/upper body day). great minds think alike :)
    hope your doing well electra!
    Felicia recently posted..Booty Workout!My Profile

  2. Comment by Brittany @ Barr & Table:

    Do you adjust your eating on your rest days or do you eat the same amount? I find that I’m always still just as hungry so I feel like I’m taking in too many calories for a rest day. That’s the biggest part that gets me.
    Brittany @ Barr & Table recently posted..Foodie Friday: Buddha’s FeastMy Profile

  3. Comment by Michelle:

    I got this in my inbox at the perfect time! I know, deep down, that I am overtraining, but I feel so guilty that I should be working out every day. I am going to actually take my rest day and rest, relax, and enjoy myself and not think about working out, or feeling bad about it!

  4. Comment by Recki a.corchado:

    Thank you for the confirmation that rest days are needed. I used to feel so guilty for not working out 7 days a week.

  5. Comment by Meg:

    great post babe! so many people to need to be reminded about rest days! i have written posts like this, too, and it just needs to be stressed over and over again :) people just don’t get it.

    i used to get anxious about rest, too, but i take 3 rest days each week now and have never felt better :)

    rest is so worth it.

    i love you and miss our chats
    Meg recently posted..02/28: Thankful Thursday & Being True to MEMy Profile

  6. Ping from Saturday Posts | MomRunsHalf:

    [...] Vanilla Bean- Rest days aren’t optional [...]

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