Why are exercise rest days important?

Exercising regularly to improve your health and wellness is good for you. But are you giving yourself rest days? Exercise rest days are important to build into your workout schedule.

active rest days reading Year of Yes by Shonda RhimesI am guilty of not always adhering to full rest days. I am more likely to have an active rest day than sitting on the couch watching Netflix all day.

When you exercise you are working your body hard. This work usually tends to lead to weight loss, improved cardiovascular endurance and overall health. However, your body also needs time to recover from the work and stress you put it under.


When you strength train, you are making little tears in your muscles. After each workout session your
muscles need fuel in the form of food and rest to repair themselves before the next workout. It’s best to alternate strength training days with cardio days. You can strength train two days in a row, as long as you focus on different areas of your body.

cross training with battle ropesIf one day you train your lower body, the next you should train your upper body. If on one day you train
your glutes and biceps, the next you should train your quads and triceps. When an area feels sore from a past workout, you probably should avoid training it until that soreness is gone.

You are going to be exhausted if you work out hard every single day. Allow rest days and times to keep you from burning out.

Exercising every day is totally fine, as long as you are cross training. This means that you are not doing the same exercise every single day. If you do that, you are setting yourself up for overuse injuries.

Another thing that can happen is a plateau. If you are trying to lose weight, you may stop seeing the pounds come off if you keep doing the same exercise every day. Or if you are trying to tone up a particular area, you may stop seeing the improvements you are looking for. Your body will get used to the movements and just go through the motions. So if you choose to exercise every day, make sure you change up what you are doing so that you aren’t ever doing the same activity two days in a row. Try to throw in a rest day every now and then, or at least make one day a very low-intensity activity, like walking or yoga.

How many rest days?

rest days spent with my little manThat is an individual question that can only be answered based on your fitness and/or weight loss goals, your lifestyle and schedule. I’d suggest one or two rest days per week. You can make one of those rest days an active rest day where you still do some type of light physical activity. But you have to decide what works best for you.

I have used Sundays as my rest day during most of my competition prep. It’s not so much a rest day at this point. I am doing one 30 minute cardio session, 30 minute sauna session and a little bit of posing right now. It might change with 4 weeks to go.

Do you allow yourself rest days?

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4 years ago

I felt like this was written directly for me! I’ve always struggled with finding the right balance with my fitness. I pinned this for future reference, thank you!

4 years ago

Great post! I love that you give the number of one to two rest days. Meaning I can only use “rest days” as an excuse a little!… LOL

Melanie Fraser
4 years ago

Thanks for this Shannon! I have also struggled to take proper breaks. But I think it might be because of the workout program I am following though.. Have you heard of Tammy Hembrow? If not, she has a booty guide that I bought and it allows 0 rest days 🙁 Actually stumbled upon a bad review yesterday (https://www.workoutbattle.com/tammy-hembrow-workout-review/) that I wish I had of read before I wasted my money! I guess it is not a good guide…

Maybe you have one that you recommend?

Thanks! Mel x