With your life in limbo, and structure out the window, it can be easy to clock up all kinds of crazy activity without stopping to rest. Workouts are available (free) at every head turn, and Instagram is quick to advertise the endless influencers sharing ‘daily HIIT workouts’ so it’s no wonder some of you are seeing your rest days disappear.
Note to self: This is not ok.
Rest days are incredibly important to make any progress. This is where the real magic happens, where the strength is built, where the speed is gained and where the body begins to make the changes it’s striving for. They not only allow your muscles to repair and grow, but they also give the time needed for your nerves, bones and connective tissue to recover and adapt. We’re going to break down the issues that can occur if you do not give your body (as a whole) time off, and why you’re less likely to achieve your goals if you do dismiss them.
More is not always better. It’s been widely recognised that if you do fall into the trap of overtraining it’s likely to do more bad than good. Exercise is addictive, there’s no denying that and there a number of harmful side effects that can come with doing too much. These include decreased performance, fatigue, hormonal issues, poor sleep quality, reproductive disorders, decreased immunity, appetite loss and mood swings.
Increased risk of Injury
We exercise to increase fitness, strength and wellbeing. An injury should not be the result of a good training programme, however, if we’re doing too much and not giving our bodies time to recover it’s likely you’ll pick one up. And yes, if niggles are not treated they will eventually become injuries. The reason we’re more likely to pick up injuries if we don’t allow adequate rest time is because when the physiological stress becomes too much, the only option our body has is to break. This could anything from some inflammation and a small strain to a stress fracture and muscle tears. Running is a particularly troublesome one for this due to the high impact nature of it.
This stands for relative energy deficiency in sport and is essentially a case of the body using more energy than it’s taking on board. This can be either accidental or intentional, and often results in hormonal imbalances. This can come from overtraining, or under fuelling but can be a combination of the two. There tends to be a higher risk of both soft tissue injuries and bone stress due to hormone levels not being regulated and the body preserving energy. If you want to know more about this, check out Renee McGregor.
This tends to be the worst-case scenario, but if you’re experiencing fatigue and still pushing through the possibility of burn out is high. This will not just affect you physically but mentally too resulting in many of the issues we’ve talked above including extreme tiredness, poor sleep, loss of appetite and disinterest in exercise.
Drop or Plateau in Performance
Yep, whilst you may be exercising to better your performance, if you do neglect rest days it’s likely you’ll actually do the opposite. Your strength, endurance and overall fitness will decrease due to the lack of time you’re giving the muscles, nervous system and body as a whole to rebuild. This is one of the first signs of overtraining.
In short, rest days are not something you want to skip. We take 1-2 a week, and if you’re training right you might even look forward to them!