Your muscles are the most adaptable tissues in the human body. When you do an exercise like weightlifting, your muscles undergo trauma, and satellite cells on the outside of your muscles become activated. They then repair the damage by joining together and so increase your muscle fibre.
Rest is vital for muscle growth. Exercise causes microscopic tears within your muscle tissue, and these tears need to heal. During your rest day, cells called fibroblasts heal the damaged tissue allowing them to heal and grow and develop strength.
How Many Rest Days Should You Have a week?
The American College of Sports medicine recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of medium intensity cardio a week. You can easily achieve this by working out 30-60 minutes for five days a week or intensive training for 20 to 60 minutes three times a week.
For strength training, the ACSM recommends that you train each major muscle group 2-3 days a week, leaving 48 hours of recovery between each session.
They state that you must have at least 24hrs recovery between each training session.
Do you Need a Recovery Day?
Working out without giving your muscles time to recover, puts your body under more physiological pressure than your system can sustain. It can lead to:
- Overuse injuries
- Stress fractures
- Joint damage
- Muscular pain
The rest phase of building muscles is equally important as the exercise phase
Exercise in excess without proper rest phases has several adverse side effects such as performance fatigue, hormonal changes, sleep disturbances, reduced immunity, and mood swings. According to the American Council of Exercise, most of your muscle strengthening and gains occur during rest periods and not during exercise.
There is an actual medical condition called OTS (Overtraining syndrome), which refers to the state of stress on your central nervous system may suffer by training too hard without sufficient rest. So with all these potential hazards, it is best to incorporate rest into your training if you have not already.
How Long Does it Take for Muscles to Heal?
The ACSM warns that you must have at least one full day of rest before working out the same muscle groups again. Muscles need an average of 48 hours to recover entirely and full recovery 72 hours to 96 hours post-workout.
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How Many Rest Days Do I Need?
Rest days for cardio
If you only indulge in light cardio exercise such as light walking, you do not require a rest day (unless advised by a doctor)
Moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise need a rest day every 3-5 days
Vigorous cardio, you should make your rest days more frequent.
Rest days for running
Running is a different type of cardio, and the rest requirements are different. Beginners should start at three days of running a week because you may suffer fatigue or injury
You may do other training types on other days using muscles not involved in running (don’t forget your rest days!)
Rest days for bodybuilding
When weight training or bodybuilding, you need to incorporate rest days into your routine by rotating the muscle groups that you work.
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After exercising a specific muscle group, you will need to give the muscles one to two days of rest for your muscles to recover
A simple way to achieve this is to assign specific days for each muscle group, such as Monday chest, Tuesday leg, etc.
Is One Day of Rest enough?
Yes, it can be depending on what type of exercise you do, the intensity of your training, your age, and your fitness levels. Beginners should aim to give their muscles 2-3 days after a workout to recover. For intermediate and advance training levels, 1-2 days should be sufficient, depending, of course, on the intensity of the training.
Rest days are as crucial to gain strength and muscles as the exercises are, so for a rounded workout, you will need both. Remember to hydrate and get plenty of sleep—your body secrets growth hormone during sleep, which results in greater strength and muscle mass.
You don’t have to be stationary on your rest days, some light cardio such as swimming, yoga, or walking can be done on some rest days, as long as the intensity is light and the duration is not excessive.