How many rest days one should typically have in a workout routine?
One rest day per week is ideal for many active individuals.
Although it depends on several factors :
Intensity - One should not keep two hard days together that’s the rule of thumb. If you wish to do two back to back sessions make sure a hard session is followed by somewhat easy workout.
Experience - More experienced athletes require less time to recover between sessions so can get away with one off per week or even in 2 weeks as they know how to mix and match their workout with active rest days. Beginners if doing very light activity can do 5-6 sessions per week. But if engaging in any rigorous activity like strength training with weights / running / kick box / cycling etc. One should start with just 2 or max 3 sessions per week.
Cross training or active recovery - All rest days are not same. Taking a break from your regular training regimen and playing a sport / going for a bicycle ride / taking a dip in pool / picking a yoga class etc. also helps in reducing the neurological overload and plays a big role in escaping the plateaus.
What role does rest play in your fitness?
Planned rest days are as important as planned workout days. If you don’t strategise rest days you will be overloading your body continuously and it will just break down one day.
Three factors can help you to analyse that if your body is still under recovery or not...
Resting heart rate - if you RHR is higher by 5+ beats per minute you are lacking recovery.
If you are sore even after 3 days of an activity you are pushing too hard not recovering well.
If your sleep is disturbed you are overreaching.
Are rest days are essential in achieving your goals? You train and you make your muscles resilient to fatigue, gain more strength, loose more fat; but that’s just one side of the coin.
All favourable adaptations in your body happen once activity is stopped and your body starts recovering from a training session. How quick you can recover from a workout denotes how fit you are! Optimal rest & nutrition are important to improve on your fitness level and perform better with each consecutive workout. If you are not well rested you might land in an injury or just loose the motivation to perform training sessions.
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