In our last post, we talked about why you need to take rest days. However, we did not talk about how you know if you need a rest day. The trick here is that, outside of using technology, the need for a rest day depends a lot on how you feel. We shy away from feelings because it is hard to provide bright line rules when everyone feels differently. However, we will do our best to provide some markers that you can pay attention to when determining whether it is better to train or rest. To do this, we will talk about three different feelings.
First, how are you feeling mentally? More specifically, what does your motivation feel like today? Are you super excited for the upcoming workout? Or, are you feeling like the workout is going to be a drag even though you would normally like it?
When our bodies need a rest, nothing will feel appealing. You might find that you are particularly irritable. You might notice that little things are distracting you really easily. For example, you are looking for just about any excuse not to go workout.
If you are feeling particularly unmotivated today, give yourself a day or two. If you truly love exercise and how it makes you feel, FOMO will kick in soon, we promise.
How Sore are You?
Second, are you super sore? When we first started working out, everything made us super sore. We are talking like so sore that it is hard to walk or wash our hair. When we started working out, one or two workouts would cause the need for a rest day. As we got more experienced, we got less sore and needed less rest days.
Pay attention to your body. Some soreness is to be expected. However, if it is debilitating, take a day. Spend time stretching, icing, foam rolling, or just relaxing. When the body is at rest, it can clear that soreness faster.
Just Plain Tired
Finally, is moving hard today? Maybe you aren’t sore, but just plain exhausted. Yesterday, 10 pushups felt great. Today, 5 pushups feel like 100. When someone asks you how you are doing today, your only response is, “Man, I am exhausted.” Your batteries are low. You need a day to recharge.
Experience will help immensely. You can’t mess up a rest day. At the very least, if you think you might need a rest day, take one. Pay attention to how you feel the next day. Were you thankful you took the rest day? Or, do you feel like you missed a day of training. Let your decision help you determine your need for a rest day in the future.
As functional fitness programs, like CrossFit, get more and more popular, there are an increasing number of tech options out there to help. Wearables are the new rage when it comes to maximizing your training. The Whoop is the most popular one. Through various metrics, the Whoop provides you data around your need for rest. If feelings aren’t enough for you, and you want something more science based, check it out.