The simple math for improving strength, conditioning, performance and everything between is;
Stress + Recovery = Growth
When we train, we push our bodies and minds to their limits and beyond. It is also during this time that we make mistakes, learn new movements, advance a skill or add weight to the bar.
Training teaches us how to use our innate ability to move, to reach our goals and ultimately, our highest potential.
But training is just one piece of the equation.
Taking a rest day gives your body and mind time to recover, repair, recoup and relax. Too many hard training days back-to-back can often lead to burnout, injury or a reduction in performance markers like strength, speed and power.
When you’re not sure whether you should train or rest, it’s always in your interest as an athlete to spend a few moments to assess how you’re feeling both physically and mentally so that you can make the most informed decision.
Take 2 – 5 minutes and answer the questions below, open and honestly. If your answers are all yes, then train; if your answers are no, then rest. And if you fall in the middle, take an active recovery day and try to move in a new way!
- Did I get more than 6 hours of sleep last night?
It’s well established that getting 7 – 9 hours of sleep a night is ideal. But life gets in the way and sleep doesn’t always come to us that easily. So, if your answer is 6 hours or less, you might need a rest day.
- Does my body feel supple, flexible and energized?
We all experience muscle fatigue after rigorous exercise, and sometimes physical activity can be a great way to relieve soreness and reduce stiffness. But, knowing that delayed onset muscle soreness can make a last-minute surge between 24 – 48 hours after training, does training today feel like the right decision?
- Am I motivated to workout today?
Both mental and physical fatigue play an important role in training longevity and performance. If you’ve gone hard for a few days and don’t have the motivation to workout, then you might need a rest day.
- Am I satisfied with my training effort over the last 3 – 5 days?
Part of why we don’t want to take rest days is the worry that we will miss an opportunity to continue working toward our goals. But to get better, we must allow our body and mind time to rest and recovery.