Taking recovery time is essential

Knowing when to take a break from workouts can be just as important as hitting it hard in the gym. Getting adequate recovery between workouts is essential for continued improvement and performance.

Your body is trying to tell you something if you….

• Feel physically drained and lack energy

• Can’t remember the last time you took a day off, and no longer really enjoy working out

• Incur frequent injuries


• Experience a sudden drop in performance or strength

• Have difficulty sleeping

• Are moody, sad, and irritable

• Have a weak immune system and frequently get sick

Each person’s recovery is different and based upon training variables as well as individual differences. How much rest you need is determined by these factors: how fast your body recovers naturally; the frequency, intensity, and duration of the workouts; nutritional habits; and overall stress level.

If the rate of recovery is appropriate, higher training volumes and intensities occur without getting to the point of overtraining.

Traditional workouts call for three times per week as the minimum, and split routines can be four to six sessions per week. With three to five exercises per body part, up to 15 to 20 sets per body part and no more than 90 to 160 minutes per day. Many dedicated fitness enthusiasts train too hard too often. If your workouts are intense, volume and frequency must be reduced. The more intense you are, the more rest you need.

For me, certain workouts will wipe me out (like an intense leg workout), and I need a nap later in the day. I love training legs, so I hit them hard and push through until I’m finished. If you have a specific body part that you like to work, you may do the same thing just on those days.


If you are new to exercise, you will feel fatigued long before it’s time to worry about overtraining. Rarely is a beginner too intense because they are still working on proper form, building endurance, and learning what it means to train hard. You cannot run before you walk, and learning coordination and muscular contraction must come first. Intensity is a learning process.

If you want to see the rewards from your workouts, planning your recovery time is just as important as refueling your body with proper nutrition. If you are going to refuel with junk food, you may as well forget about seeing progress in strength and muscle gains. Muscles grow between workouts, but only if they have proper nutrition and rest. This includes a healthy balance of proteins and carbohydrates.

What do I mean by "rest days?" No worries, you can still do things to burn calories, such as going for a relaxing stroll, bike ride, yoga class, a cooling swim. This could also be a great day to catch up on some of those nagging chores or get extra sleep. Rest is just as good for the soul as it is for the body, so bring down that stress level and relax.

By scheduling your rest day, just as you probably do your cheat day, the guilt is gone, and you are still sticking to your plan. Keep in mind that an extra day or two of rest is more beneficial than an extra day or two of workouts.

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