Rest is your body’s best shot at recovering after exercise. The quicker the recovery, the quicker strength and muscle tone will come.
While rest days might seem a little counterproductive, neglecting to listen to your body’s warning signs of possible over-training could result in muscle pain, a compromised immune system, unbalanced sleep patterns, a decrease in strength and an increased risk of injury.
Why rest matters
When you weight train, you’re essentially breaking down muscle fibers which cause microscopic tears in the muscle tissue. This might sound a little scary but it’s nothing to be afraid of. As your body builds itself back up your muscles become stronger than before.
But in order for the repair process to take place, your muscles need approximately 48 hours of recovery time after an intense workout. These rest days will give your muscles, nerves, bones, and connective tissue time to rebuild.
Without proper the time off to rest and for your immune system to repair and grow the muscle, you’re not going to benefit from your training. This is also why you need to vary the muscle groups you work on by staggering your workout days.
What happens when you rest?
We often don’t talk about why rest days are important and why our bodies need it. But taking a few days off to rest is vital in the muscle repair process after weight training.
To recover, your muscles need more blood. That’s how your body sends nutrients to the damaged tissue. This process is also known as inflammation. While it can be painful and is often perceived as a bad thing, inflammation is necessary for recovery after a workout.
Around 24 to 48 hours after a workout, your muscles reach the peak of their inflammation, after which your body goes into repair mode. It then starts to create protein nutrients from amino acids in your bloodstream. These amino acids are molded into new muscle tissue, which your body lays down to replace older, more damaged muscle. When this process of regeneration occurs naturally it’s usually very slow, but when it’s given a boost by weight training it starts to speed up rapidly. This is why your body needs sufficient rest in order to recover and rebuild just as rapidly.
While all this muscle repair stuff might sound super complicated (and a maybe little daunting too)don’t forget that weight training has loads of benefits.
- Weight training increases your physical work capacity. You will be able to carry out your daily activities with more ease and without feeling tired too fast.
- It improves bone density. One of the best ways you can control bone loss as you age is to add weight training to your workout plan.
- It promotes fat-free body mass with decreasing sarcopenia. The lean muscle mass that we all work so hard for decreases with age, but the good news is that weight training helps to slow down this process.
- It Increases the strength of connective tissue, muscles, and tendons which leads to improved motor performance and decreases your risk of injury.
- It improves your quality of life. Strength training will not only make you strong but will also help with managing your weight. This will lead to an increase in body confidence because when you look good, you feel good too.
During rest periods muscles have time to recover, repair, strengthen and grow. However, there isn’t a specific one-size-fits-all timeline for rest. If you feel tired adding an extra day or two of rest is more beneficial to your overall health and fitness than an extra day of training sessions. Finding the right balance is the key to achieving your personal training goals. A mandatory break will also help you stay motivated to get back into your fitness schedule.