Should you take rest days? Tips for muscle recovery

One big mistake beginners make when starting with fitness is to rest as little as possible. They want to progress as fast as possible, and taking rest days seems like a waste of time.

But let me tell you this, taking rest is a crucial factor in fitness.

In this post, I will talk about the importance of rest, and I will give some tips to speed up your muscle recovery.

Reasons why we do not take rest days

Before we dive deeper into why rest is such an important aspect of fitness, we first cover why people want to avoid/do not take rest days.

Possible reasons could be.

  • You want to keep improving.
  • There is a deadline for a competition or another goal.
  • You might think you will lose strength or muscle if you do not train for some time.
  • You are addicted to working out (Yes, this is a real thing).

If you recognize yourself doing one of these to avoid rest days, you might want to take a couple of minutes to read this article.

The importance of rest

After an intensive workout, you and your muscles are both exhausted. The muscle tissues you used got damaged during that workout session. Your body repairs the damaged muscles and makes them slightly bigger and stronger than before. Your muscles have grown.  

We call that repairing phase muscle recovery, and it is crucial if you want to get stronger/bigger. When you take rest, you let your muscles take a break so they can recover in peace. People who do not take enough rest will not have optimal muscle recovery. They have a chance to overburden their muscles, which can lead to injuries.

Therefore, taking rest is just as important as the training itself. And no, you do not lose any strength or progress when you rest for a couple of days. You will actually make more progress, as long as you have a proper diet. 

Your body cannot be under stress all the time. It needs rest to improve!

How to rest properly

When it comes to rest/taking rest days, you should avoid as much activity as possible for the muscles that need a break. How do you know when to take a break or not? It is simple, listen to your body. 

Your muscles need about 2-3 days for full recovery. So plan when you take rest, do this as smart and efficient as possible. Divide your workouts into different muscle groups, for example, push-pull-legs. You can now plan your workouts correctly. With this routine, you can exercise a muscle group while the others rest. This split will give every muscle group enough rest to recover and have every muscle group enough exercise to get bigger.

Train smart!

Besides a smart workout routine, you should also focus on the few tips listed down below.

Tips for muscle recovery

  • Protein-rich diets, It is crucial to eat a lot of protein when you want your muscles to grow. The proteins you eat are used as the building blocks to repair the damaged muscle tissues. Eat too little protein, and your recovery will not be optimal. The recommended portion of protein is around 1,6-2 grams of protein per kg of bodyweight. Also, focus on the variation of protein. Get your protein from different sources such as fish, chicken, or dairy products. And of course, eat beside enough protein, enough vegetables, and fruits.
  • Stretching, a quite underrated part of fitness is stretching. During a workout, your muscles build up tension. When you finished your session, you need to loosen up the tight muscles. By stretching a couple of times a week, you will release the tension and stiffness of your muscles. Blood with the needed nutrients can now easier access your muscles, which will speed up muscle recovery. Also, when you stretch, you will lengthen your muscles fibers. This will give your muscles more space to grow.
  • Sleep, sleep, is besides nutrition the most important factor when it comes to muscle recovery. When you sleep, your body releases muscle growth hormones and stimulates muscle recovery through protein synthesis. For optimal recovery, you should sleep at least 8 hours a day. Sleep too little, and your body will not produce as many hormones as it needs.

Should you take rest days?

Well, it depends. I think it is not necessary as long as you let every muscle recover well enough. Include the points mentioned above, enough sleep, healthy and high-protein diets, and stretching on a daily basis. And of course, a well-planned workout-split. You can, for example, let your legs rest while you work out other parts of your body. 

However, this does not mean rest days are a waste of time. No, rest days do not ruin your progress or result in strength loss. You just need to listen to your body. If you notice that training every day is getting too much, take a rest day. It will not do any harm. Take that day to focus on stretching and relaxation. Besides, training every day can be quite time-consuming. Some people are forced to take rest days.

Just remember, rest is just as important as the training itself!