We’ve all heard the phrase ‘no days off’, but is that always the best approach? While active recovery is a great way to allow our body gentle movement to promote recovery, knowing when to take a rest day is also essential.
There are days where passive rest is the best option for you and your body and taking one or two days off can prevent burnout, injury, fatigue, and overtraining and promote balance within your training schedule.
So, how do you know whether you should opt for active recovery or simply rest?
Your body will likely let you know when to take a rest day but if you’re one of the people who need to see it to believe it, you may find it useful to monitor your recovery and training to have data to prove you’re feeling right – cold hard numbers are harder to ignore.
Here are some of the physical signs and metrics that you should keep an eye out for to know when to take a rest day.
1. Good pain Becomes bad pain
The old saying ‘no pain, no gain’ is not always the case. Yes, there is the good pain that comes from making your muscles work – delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) can be expected following new movements, changes in training volume, or coming back after some time away.
The bad pain is sharp and localized. It prevents you from moving a body part, decreases your range of motion, and/or impacts your ability to do daily tasks. This type of pain can be caused by a more serious muscle tear, stress fracture, or aggravating an old injury and means you should rest. If you’re doing a deadlift and feel a sharp pain in your back, it’s time to stop.
2. Achy joints
Soreness or aching in your joints can indicate that your muscles aren’t absorbing the force properly and that the soft tissue around your joints is absorbing too much. It can also be attributed to pre-existing injuries.
If you notice weight loss and/or a plateau in your training, performance, and fitness results, you’re dealing with classic signs of overtraining and it’s time to take a break.
3. Poor sleep
Sleep has a massive impact on your energy levels, mood, and performance. It should be a crucial factor in making training decisions as it allows your body to restore, rebuild and adapt and helps build muscle and lose fat.
If you’re not getting enough sleep, being tired and in desperate need of a rest day won’t come as a surprise. What’s harder to spot based on your subjective feeling only is not getting enough good-quality sleep.
With a fitness watch, like the Polar Ignite, you can track your sleep and monitor how well your body recovered from training and other demands of your day.
If your sleep is of poor quality, despite how many hours you sleep, you may wake up feeling exhausted and out of energy during the day. In this case, simply tracking your sleep can help you identify and change harmful sleeping habits and improve your sleep.
4. Too much training
If you’re feeling fatigued and sore, yet feel like you can’t take a day off, check your training history – you may actually be due for one.
Too much is never good, but it’s not always easy to tell whether you’ve trained too much or enough. Tracking your workouts and checking your training history is a must for all active exercisers as it can be easy to lose track of how active you’ve been throughout the week.
If tracking and seeing your training history isn’t enough for you to decide whether you should take a rest day or hit the gym, help is at hand – if you’re using the Polar Ignite. Based on how well your body was able to recover during the night, the Polar Ignite tells you when to take a rest day and offers you personalized training suggestions so you’ll know when to opt for low-intensity supportive exercises instead of a hard workout session.
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Please note that the information provided in the Polar Blog articles cannot replace individual advice from health professionals. Please consult your physician before starting a new fitness program.