T Nation

Rest Days: How Important?


How important is it to have rest days? I am getting conflicting information on this. Some seem to work out like twice a day and rest only one day a week.

Some workout once a day, and rest 3 times a week.

Which is better?


Resting enough is important. You muscles don't grow, nor do you get stronger in the gym, that all happens while your resting.

As far as how much is enough, well that's one of the most difficult questions in this field. It depends on numerous things; training age, actual age, nutrition, sleep, everyday stress levels, length of workout, type of workout, levels of work capacity, etc.

So, the appropriate answer of how much rest is enough is how much can YOU do before progress halts? You can figure this out on your own. Ways to decrease the time you need for recovery is too eat more/better, sleep more/better, slowly build up your work capacity, and reduce stress in everday life. Good luck.



I don't think there is a "perfect" answer. I think once you have been training long enough you should be able to "listen" to your body and kind of know when you need to rest. My wife and I do full body workouts on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. We do rotator cuff work, farmer walks, and cardio on Tuesday and Thursday. We stay out of the gym on Saturday and Sunday. If we feel up to it we may do some hiking, biking, or some other outdoor activity over the weekend, but we also make sure to get plenty of rest. Keeping up your intensity is important, but so is allowing your body to recuperate, heal, and grow.



there IS no perfect answer. it depends on all variables. if you need time off, you need time off. you need to figure it out for yourself. there is no magical number for how many days off you need.

it depends on your current level of conditioning, your lifestyle , and your training program.

personally, i pretty much NEVER take days 'off'... i'll try my best to do something active everyday. that doesn't mean i'll do some stenuous activity if i'm feeling burnt out, however. but if you're feeling down, mow the lawn and wash your car inside and out just to get moving. really no need to be immobile an entire days as many people i know do on their 'off days'.



I have to say though I find myself in the gym in some capacity 6-7 days a week (that's not to say there wasn't two sessions on some of those days).

However, I am not there to bust ass everytime. I often do a little cardio, calves, abs, stretching, etc.

On days where I don't go to the gym at all I feel stir crazy. I find that mentally it helps.


It also depends on what your sessions involve.

When training for hammer throw I tend to do 2 high quality sessions a week and 3 recovery sessions a week plus a comp if on. The break up is

Mon - AM Weights, PM Tempo (Boxing)
Tue - AM -, PM Throws
Wed - AM Pool, PM Tempo (Boxing)
Thu - AM Weights, PM Throws
Fri - Off (but will do a sauna/spa)
Sat - Off or Comp
Sun - Conditioning/REcovery Session - tends to be along continuous warmup.

I also tend to work on a 2-3 wk on, 1 wk recovery

Recovery will become more important as you get older.

I would look at some of the articles done by Chris T and Ian K on this site and others in regard to recovery.


I'm starting to learn that when progress falters (due to nutrition, sleep, or whatever other stupid things I'm doing) that lightening up a bit or taking a day off can be a good idea.


I agree and most of the time go by feel some days call for me to bring the schit go for 90%+ or a new PR. Others its not there and I will stop short say stay in the 70-80% zone and hit quality reps. Day to day week to week it can change.

Have to learn to listen to your body and also every once and a while do that crap (high rep stuff in my case) you dont like so much. It gives big bang for the buck.

Or like during my recent training cyclew I have had prescribed unloading weeks. Four week cycles week 1 80%, week 2 90%, week three 60-70% and drop total volume, week for bring the house and go for a new PR.

Learn to listen to you and dont be affraid of just walking out of the gym if it isnt going right or do something that is.



It's all a balancing act. You can work out 7 days a week, but you won't be able to go balls to the walls every day for maybe more than 3 weeks. Rest is important, because like it was already said, that's when you grow, get stronger, and basically compensate for stressing your body out.

Time off is just necessary (how you define "off" may also be different, whether it's no lifting at all, or maybe active recovery stuff, or just farting around on a basketball court with some friends), but for different people, you will obviously need different amounts of time off, spaced differently throughout a training cycle, etc. How long you take time off will depend on you personally, along with how much you eat, how much you sleep, etc.

Lots of factors, and no one cookie-cutter solution.


I generally plan to train 7 days a week for 45 minutes from the start of my first heavy set, and if I feel overworked I will cut back on my daily volume by setting a time limit, usually 25 minutes, occasionally I'll do a week of just 15 minutes.

I think that an occasional day of is helpful but I don't necessarily hold to the "instinctive" method here. I just know that planning say 3 days off in a particular 2 week period will help me stay recovered-especially on heavy lifts.

Also, I have experimented with taking a complete week off with good results. My results on this have been that on the week I come back, I can pick up my heavy lifts right where I left off, and I have a lot more energy and enthusiasm.


Simply put: Rest days are as of equal importance as training days.

That is; without training you won't grow.; without rest days you won't grow.


I rest by performance. If I can't increase the weight or reps, I rest more. If I still can't, I change programs.


In my opinion rest days are very important, but inactivity is no good. on rest days do something that still gets your heart rate up even if it is just for 20-30 minutes. On rest days i do light cardio like a light jog or swim. i find that i feel better the next time i go lift if i did some light cardio on my rest day.


rest, shmest


Is it just me, or did we all just state the same thing like 10 times? :slight_smile:


Well I dunno about you, but I think everyone just basically said the same thing a bit less than a dozen times.


Yeah, basically.


the answer to the ultimate question is.....42.


rest days very much depend on what order you work your bodyparts and which bodyparts you work together hell you can work 1 bodypart a day 7 days a week if you do it right but more compound exercises and upper lower body splits your obviously going to need days off so you don't overwork the muscles that overlap....


I often don't feel like I need a rest day even though it's planned in schedule. However, once I've had the day off, I usually feel alot better. Turns out you can be worn out, but so used to it you don't even really notice.