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When putting together a programme of training for an individual, rest days are often included. Have you ever wondered why they are important?

Many training programmes (bearing in mind that each schedule is individual to each trainee’s needs and goals) focus on either whole body workouts or split body workouts, not usually both on the same day, every day. The reasoning behind split body workouts, i.e. working alternative muscle groups, having a “leg day” or “arm day” is to concentrate on areas in need without overdoing it, while enabling previously trained muscle groups to rest and regroup before retraining.

In the case of runners, many choose to run every day (again, everyone is different) however, they run differently. They may incorporate sprints on day, a jog another day, hill running, long distance or short differences. These different types of runs work the body differently and in essence, some could certainly be considered more restful than others.

Having a pure rest day, a day off according to their training timetable is valuable for a number of reasons (highlighted below) however it is important to remember that firstly, rest days are not the law and secondly if you do choose to have a day off as part of your regime you don’t necessarily have to spend that time on your backside watching Netflix and eating crisps.

Reasons to Incorporate Rest Days

As well as avoiding overtraining rest days can be beneficial because:

·         Muscle soreness doesn’t necessarily kick in straight away. If on day one you enjoy a fierce workout, try something new or just overdo it a little you may not feel the muscle aches and pain the next day, or at least not fully. This is known as delayed onset. If you were to throw yourself back into a full workout on day two, without having given your body a chance to react and you to alter your workouts accordingly, you run the risk of a much harder workout than necessary at best and damage at worst.

·         Rest days, or reduced activity days give your body an opportunity to repair itself. Muscle strain and similar concerns are a natural part of working out and if addressed properly (you need to listen to your body) injury may be avoided. Whether your rest days are scheduled or taken as and when necessary they also give you a chance to regroup mentally.

·         Motivation is key when it comes to a long-term commitment to increasing your fitness levels. Motivation does not, however, come as an unending supply and so taking a physical and mental break gives you the chance to breathe, to readjust, to work through any issues, identify and celebrate successes and to commit yourself with renewed energy and a desire to succeed.

  How do you schedule /use your rest days?