Why are rest days so important for progress + weight loss?

Hey guys!

I've been training a lot these days and LOVING IT! It can be a little difficult to put the breaks on when you're feeling so good working out. Full disclosure, I went a little overboard a few weeks back and began to experience some undesirable symptoms such as water retention, injuries and lethargy.

I was overtraining!

My ego wasn't happy but I knew I had to scale back how many days I was working out and had to remind myself of why I'm working out in the first place? To feel good, right?

Taking a few extra rest days per week was easier than I thought it would be and gave immediate results in reducing water retention, soreness and improving energy, sleep and clarity of thought.

Ain't no-one into feeling like they have the flu when they don't, ammi right?

So, this lead me to today's blog: Why are rest days important for progress + weight loss? (plus a few more key points)

In the past, especially when I was training for fitness competitions I would want to train every. single. day. Even when I was sick! (that was probably why I was sick). I didn't know enough about the body to know that training every day, especially for my body type, would lead to water retention, weight gain, inflammation and injuries. 

I believed that taking a rest day or two was a waste of time and that I'd be doing myself a disservice by chilling out. How wrong was I...

Rest days are to be built into your training protocol and taken as seriously as your work days. Regardless of the type of training you're doing (HIIT, yoga, resistance, running etc). Here are a few key reasons why it's so important to build rest days into your week.

First, what is a rest day? 

A rest day is when you take a day off from your training to allow your body to recover. Rest days are a super important part of your overall recovery plan including mobility work and self-myofascial release. If you want to see your body transform then rest days most definitely need to be incorporated and respected in your plan. 

Why are rest days so important?

This might sound counterintuitive but rest days are when your body does a lot of great work! It's when it has the time and space to repair the tissue that's broken down when training, specifically your muscles. When your tissues can repair that's when you get stronger (and leaner!).

Many of my clients are so excited to train, especially when they're first starting out - They're feeling motivated, excited to achieve their goals, the workouts feel incredible and they crave the muscle soreness post-workout...This is when they are tempted to skip their rest day and get in some more exercise to keep the good vibes going.

Though I always warn them of the 'come down' waiting just around the corner. Think of it this way - If you're really exhausted and try to get all for your work done, all of your errands done, and more, you're probably struggling, right?

The same thing goes for your training.

If your body is physically tired you'll probably notice your performance in the gym (or studio) is lack-lustred and your body may be sore. This is a sign that you're in need of one or two good 'ol rest days.

It's ok! You've earned it!

Having a rest day also gives you an opportunity to focus on something else you love. Maybe your art, cooking, catching up with friends or watching that new movie on Netflix. 

How often should you rest?

This is an awesome question, I'm so glad you asked! Though the answer isn't totally straightforward. Each person's genetic make up will determine if they will excel in strength training, cardio-based training or power-based training as well as how often they should be doing so.

For example, the genes MTHFR and MTRR, together, will determine our homocysteine and inflammation levels as well as how well our immune system works and hormones clear from the body. All of this will determine how intense or workouts should be, how much rest you may need in between sets of exercise as well as between days of training and how you can compliment your training with nutrition and responsible detoxes throughout the year.

Yup, your DNA is an incredible blueprint to follow and learn from so that you are engaging in the appropriate level and type of trading for optimal results!

If you've checked out our Fit Genes Program you may have noticed how detailed and exact the recommendations are for your training and nutrition. If you're a high-achiever and incredibly motivated to learn about your body specific needs for training, rest, nutrition and key supplementation, then the Fit Genes Program may just be perfect for you.

Now, if you haven't done our genetic testing for weight-loss and athletic performance then a general rule of thumb for how much rest to take is 1-2 days per week. Preferably not back-to-back. And a rest day doesn't mean you have to lay in bed all day ordering in uber eats and bingeing your faves on TV (unless that's your bag!). You may prefer to have an 'active rest day'.

What are active rest days?

An active rest day means you're engaging in something low-key in place of your regular training. Take a walk around your favourite neighbourhood in the city, do some gardening, take a gentle restorative yoga class or restore an old dresser in your garage (seriously! - but with great ventilation). How active your rest day is really depends in how your body feels so it's important for you to learn to tune in and acknowledge/respect where your body and nervous system may be at that time. 

Just to recap - a few signs to look out for that you may be overtraining are: fatigue, restlessness or lack of sleep, loss of apeteite, injuries or more intense than normal muscle soreness.

If you're experiencing those symptoms remind yourself that it's ok to take a rest day, slow down and repair. You can get back on the horse in no time and will be better for it for sure. Slow it down a bit and listen to those cues your body is giving you. 

Become well with Hope,
Cassandra Hope



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