5-star Fitness

The Importance Of Rest and Recovery Between Workouts

Written By Megan Brandt • 2 min read

Exercise is physically and mentally demanding on the body. In order to reap the benefits from your workouts, it is important that you actually rest on a rest day. This does not mean that you are laying on the couch all day watching Netflix, but rather it means doing lighter activities. Our bodies are meant to move every day, but on rest days we focus on the recovery of the muscles, mind, and nervous system. 

Benefits of a rest day: 

  1. Repairing and building muscles: Exercise creates tiny tears in the muscles. During rest days, the muscle cells repair and rebuild for stronger muscles. 
  2. Decreases muscle soreness: Any excess lactate in the blood is flushed out to help ease sore muscles and prevent cramping and fatigue. 
  3. Replenishing the body’s energy stores: Glycogen is a form of energy stored in muscles which can get depleted during exercise. Rest days allow the muscles to replenish their glycogen stores and readiness for the next workout. 
  4. Preventing overtraining and injury: Overtraining with too little rest puts repetitive stress and strain on the muscles, increasing the risk of overtraining syndrome and injury. Overtraining Syndrome can be difficult to recover from, so be aware of the signs and symptoms listed below. 
  5. Promotes relaxation: Overexercising can tire the mind as well as the body. This mental exhaustion can lead to making mistakes while training which can lead to injury. Take your rest day to enjoy time with family and friends or enjoy another hobby. 

Ideally, a person should take a rest day each week or as needed to help the body and mind recover. A rest day can be an active recovery day that incorporates gentle exercises such as stretching, walking, swimming, or yoga. However, if you are experiencing signs of overtraining, then a full day of rest or more might be needed. Include activities that help the mind and body recover such as reading, doing a favorite hobby, or hanging with friends and family. 


Signs of Overtraining Syndrome 

Training-related signs of overtraining 

  • Persistent muscle soreness 
  • Decreased performance (loss of speed, strength, and flexibility) 
  • “Heavy” leg muscles, even at lower exercise intensities 
  • Performance plateaus or declines 
  • Thoughts of skipping or cutting short training sessions  
  • Unshakable fatigue 
  • Increase in tension, depression, anger, or confusion 
  • Inability to relax 
  • Poor-quality sleep 
  • Lack of energy, decreased motivation, moodiness 


Health-related signs of overtraining 

  • Increased susceptibility to injury and viral sicknesses 
  • Increased blood pressure and at-rest heart rate 
  • Irregular menstrual cycles 
  • Decreased appetite and weight loss 
  • Constipation; diarrhea 

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