6 Signs It's Time For a Rest Day
1. Lack of Progress
There are so many possible reasons behind a plateau but, if you've been training hard, without getting results, you should take a look at your recovery.
Some people are able to train every day, and recover well between sessions. However, this certainly doesn't apply to everyone. This means you might have a different work capacity to your training partner, so it's important to listen to your body - and not what other people are telling you.
If you think you might have been overtraining recently, schedule a few rest days. Give your body time to recover, feed it good food, and relax. If you find it hard to unwind and chill out, introduce some light activity, such as yoga or walking.
When you feel rested, head back to the gym. Pay attention to how you're feeling, as well as what you're achieving. If you feel stronger and faster, you probably weren't allowing your body enough recovery time. Introduce more rest days, and play around with them until you find what works well for you.
Do you feel tired all the time? We often take fatigue as a given, or a side effect of our busy lives. This shouldn't be the case. A decent training program should energise you and, whilst you may feel tired afterwards, it should always improve the quality of your life.
If you're arriving at the gym feeling tired, and struggle to perform your programmed workouts, your body is trying to tell you something. This is especially important if you train in the morning, as it could indicate high levels of cortisol.
Of course, we all have one-of-those-days from time to time, but if this happens to you regularly, don't ignore it!
3. Weak Immune System
The occasional bout of illness is to be expected, but regular illness has no place in a healthy lifestyle. If you're feeling run-down, or keep picking up bugs, it's time to take a step back from the barbell and increase your rest days.
This often happens alongside chronic fatigue, and should set huge alarm bells ringing. WODs are hard going on your Central Nervous System (CNS), and if you try to ignore signs of CNS fatigue, you'll be well on your way to burnout.
When this happens, you'll need to take much more than a few days out to recover - so minimise the risk of this happening and take a rest day NOW!
4. Excessive DOMS
It's normal to experience DOMS after a tough WOD, or heavy lifting session. Don't worry, we're not going to advise you to avoid the gym just because you're struggling to sit on the toilet the day after a heavy squat session.
Healthy DOMS tends to make an appearance the morning after training. It usually lasts around 48 hours, although it's not unusual to disappear before - especially if your recovery game is strong.
So, when is DOMS a sign you need to chill out a bit? If you're regularly feeling it for longer than 2-3 days post-WOD, you might not be recovering well enough. This can happen for many reasons, including poor nutrition and dehydration, but it's also a common sign of overtraining.
5. Persistent Injury
Along with excessive DOMS, persistent injury is another reason to take it easy in the box, and give yourself some time off.
It goes without saying you shouldn't ignore an injury to train - that's not what we're talking about here. Instead, we're talking about those little 'niggles' that keep cropping up. They're easy to ignore, and can often be ignored with a little kinesiology tape.
These persistent injuries are a tell-tale sign of overtraining. You might think you can train through an injury, simply by adapting the workout to minimise the load on affected muscles. Whilst this is sometimes possible, it can hinder the healing process. If you have niggles that don't seem to be getting any better, consider taking some time out.
6. Elevated Heart Rate
Monitoring your heart rate is an effective way to assess whether you're getting enough rest. As you get fitter, your resting heart rate will gradually decline over time. However, if you're overtraining, it may be elevated instead.
Monitor your resting heart rate each morning, and make a note of it in your training diary. Do you notice any patterns? The morning after an intense workout, you may notice it's elevated. This means you haven't yet recovered from the WOD.
When your heart rate is significantly higher than your average resting heart rate (i.e. over 7bpm higher), or notice it's gradually increased over the course of a few weeks, it's an indication you need to take a day or two away from the box.
This may feel like a setback, but if your resting heart rate's increasing, you're probably not getting any fitter. Take some time to recharge, and come back stronger!
What do you think? Do you take many rest days? How do you decide when to spend more time on your recovery?