Do we need to rest between bouts of exercise? How do we know when it's time to rest? Surely the more we do the fitter we'll become? Isn't that the point?
When you're just starting out with your exercise program, it's tough to know when to rest. How do you know the difference between feeling tired and just avoiding your exercise because it's hard work? If you're not a naturally sporty person you may feel that the lethargy that's currently pinning you to the sofa is really your body telling you it needs to recuperate and who's to say you're wrong?
And what about if you really pushed your body hard and now it's pushing you back? How can you tell the difference between anticipated muscle soreness and actual injury?
Well, the truth is that when you first begin exercising you really can't. I often maintain that there are 2 types of exerciser and my job is either to tell you to get on with it or tell you to slow down. My aim is to keep you working hard enough to achieve your goals while avoiding the kind of severe muscle soreness that might put you off returning or slow you down before you can really develop a habit.
For general fitness. this means mixing up your exercise types and resting regularly.
As muscle is developed by tearing and repairing muscle fibres it's vital that you let your body rest so it has time to repair. To achieve time sensitive goals we have to get those muscles moving as soon as they're repaired to build on each exercise session most effectively. Whaaaaat? How can you tell? Well,that's a Personal Trainers job and they will write your program around these goals so as long as you stick to your exercise days you'll be fine.
And if you don't have a Trainer? Well, here's a quick infographic from Precision Nutrition to show you one way to break your routine down a little. This image is weighted towards resistance training and would be especially suitable for someone who wants to tone up. For some help on how else to break down your exercise, try looking at these NHS guidelines. They recommend a day of rest each week with a far greater emphasis on active recovery exercise such as brisk walking. To achieve the minimum NHS recommended levels you would aim for 3 hours+ per week but pretty much swap the ratio of resistance training below with active recovery.
Enjoying rest time doesn't mean sitting on your behind. It can be a stroll on the beach, light gardening, cycling to the shop or taking kids to the park. This still counts as rest and is far better for you than wondering if the sofa cushion has turned bottom shaped or if your bottom has turned sofa shape.
So YES, rest is important but it's maybe not what you think it is. Have a great day and try some active rest.