You Work Hard. But Do You Know How to Rest?

You Work Hard. But Do You Know How to Rest?

Denise Harris

September 18, 2018

When you’re committed to your fitness goals and determined to change your health for the better, it’s easy to adopt a “go hard” mindset. That mindset gets us to the gym, pushes us through challenging workouts, and helps us make healthy food choices. However, that mindset doesn’t really help us with one of the most important elements of healthy living—rest. While it can be hard to take a day off or choose a recovery activity over an intense workout, it’s important that we do. Rest is key to reaping all of the benefits we work to achieve. When we exercise, we’re not only expending energy. We can cause damage to muscle and bone tissue, electrolyte and glycogen depletion, and changes in hormone levels. Our bodies need rest to recover from these changes so that we can grow stronger, build endurance, and go at it again. When we don’t rest enough, we force our bodies to work harder to perform well. Extended periods of minimal rest can sabotage our fitness goals, lead to injury, and negatively impact our mood.

Still, for those of us who like to go hard in our fitness lives, it can be a little tricky to figure out how much rest our bodies need, and what we can do to help our bodies recover. Check out the tips below for a quick guide on how to build rest and recovery into your workout plan.

Base Your Rest on Your Workout Schedule

While one or two rest days per week is a good rule of thumb, the right amount of rest will vary by person and by training intensity. For example, if you perform high intensity workouts 4 days each week for more than 60 minutes, your body may need a rest day in between each day of work. However, there are times when you may need to be flexible. If you’re feeling more stressed or fatigued than usual and have a tough workout planned, it may be a good idea to take an extra rest day or choose an activity of lower intensity. Always listen to your body.

Get Adequate Sleep

Our bodies repair most when we are at total rest. This is why sleep is crucial to achieving any fitness goal. It’s also a key factor in maintaining physical, mental, and emotional health. During sleep, our metabolic system goes to work, our energy levels are restored, and our muscles grow stronger. The average adult age 18 or older needs 7 – 9 hours of sleep each night. While this range may fluctuate based on age and various life changes, you should strive to get, at least, 7 hours of sleep every day.[1] When we deprive our bodies of sleep, we undermine our hard work. Exercise can actually help us sleep by creating more adenosine—the chemical that makes us feel sleepy—in the brain. Embrace that feeling and get more sleep.

Recover Actively

Passive or total rest days are important. But so are activities that allow you to assist your body in recovery. Active recovery can be defined as any exercise that is less intense or easier than your regular routine. For example, a marathon runner may go for an easy jog or take a yoga class to work on flexibility 2 days a week. Cross-training is also a good option for active recovery. If weightlifting is your thing, try adding a Pilates class after your heavy days for continued strength building with less resistance and focused flexibility training. Other creative ways to stay active while recovering include foam rolling, easy hiking, and swimming. For balance, try completing one session of active recovery for every hard workout you do.

Active Recovery at New Start Fitness

We’ve got you covered! Take a Buti Yoga class with Cammie Lawton or a Beginner Mat Pilates class with Denise Harris. Check out the schedule here.

[1] For more information about sleep recommendations, visit


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