Why Rest Days Are Important For Weightlifters

the importance of rest days for weight lifters

Most people will agree that simply maintaining an exercise routine for lifting weights takes a lot of motivation. Because how many individuals actually stick to it? In fact, just the thought of waking up to lifting weights is like hearing the world is going to end.

The truth is everyone has different levels of motivation. And if you are reading this article, you are not part of the majority group.

If the title caught your attention, it probably means you are too motivated. And you also know that too much of something usually leads down a bad road, even when you consider something as positive as motivation.

What you have to understand is that pushing yourself beyond your limits won’t help you reach your goals faster. Instead, you will actually start to create roadblocks, and some of them can cause permanent damage.

So, this is going to be the focal point for this article.

Are you getting enough rest as a weightlifter and why is it so important?

Why Rest Days Are Important

a guy takes a break from lifting weights

There is no question that lifting weights (read about our favorite dumbbells here) can create a rush you can’t get with anything else.

And if you have too much energy you need to burn, or you are simply too motivated, you are treading a fine line between making your workouts productive, or destructive.

Seeing as we don’t actively participate in whatever our bodies do while we sleep, it is easy to overlook the crucial part resting plays in an overall healthy life.

And because your body is like a car with your mind behind the wheel, you can literally choose to steer off a cliff and your body won’t question the consequences.

Just like you need the engine to cool down after a long trip, refuel, check the oil and air pressure – you need your body to recover from the stress you put it through.

To get a little more scientific, certain things happen when you sleep. For example, critical growth hormones are produced while muscles are repaired and reinforced. In other words, you build muscle while you sleep.

But you don’t always have to be asleep for recovery to take place. Because just by resting and relaxing you promote the process of healing.

Remember The Psychological Factors

a guy thinks about resting after a long workout

While the physical consequences of not getting enough rest will be clearly visible to the person experiencing the aches and pains, there are psychological factors involved too.

Because just like the body needs time to repair, the mind needs to get some perspective about everything that happened throughout the day.

If you don’t allow a regular resting period for your mind, you can drive over a cliff with your eyes wide open.

Motivation can quickly turn into a dangerous obsession, and this is usually a direct result of not getting enough rest.

Spot The Signs of Over-Training

Now comes the difficult task of setting a limit. How much lifting is too much? And when are you pushing the limits in terms of how quickly you stack on more weight?

According to experts, the average person should get about 150 minutes of moderate-intense training a week, and there should be appropriate resting periods in between these sessions.

Roughly translated, five times a week for 30 to 60 minutes is considered a healthy balance for a regular person.

Of course, certain exercises will require longer recovery periods, which can be up to 48-hours. As for weightlifters, you are targeting specific muscle groups, and you are putting a lot of stress on those muscles.

So, it is recommended to give at least 48-hours of recovery time after targeting certain areas with high-intensity lifting (Learn more about HIIT here).

At the same time, you want to moderately add weight to your workout plan, and only when you feel really confident.

What Happens When You Over-Train

a guy maxs his results because he took a rest day

When you over-train, you basically reach a point where resting won’t be enough to repair the damage. That means you cause injuries that could require surgery and physical therapy. And there is no telling how permanent the damage will be.

What is known for sure is that the more exhausted your body, the more damage you can do with a single workout.

In addition to physically putting yourself out of action, you can expect to have a mental breakdown as well. As mentioned earlier, there are several psychological issues that develop without proper rest, and this can lead to additional problems.

For example:

  • You can start to feel depressed
  • A significant decrease in motivation and energy levels
  • There is a chance you can experience insomnia
  • You will feel more irritable and frustrated

And these things can happen on top of the physical pain and discomfort you are bound to feel. Basically, and without being melodramatic about it, you can ruin your life by pushing yourself too hard.

Maintaining a Balance

How you approach challenges in life won’t just help to reach success, but it can make things a lot easier. In this case, you are a weightlifter looking for that perfect balance of building muscle and strength, and taking the right supplements to help (read about our favorites here), but without putting your body in harm’s way.

In other words, you need a pattern like this:

a fit man stands facing the camera

Three steps forward – one step back – three steps forward – one step back…

The three steps you are taking forward represent a healthy body only getting stronger.

And the one step you take back is the recovery period, which allows you to keep moving forward.

When you over-train, the pattern will look something like this:

Five steps forward – three steps forward – one step forward – one step backward – three steps backward – five steps backward – permanent damage.

Final Thoughts

There is no question that the human body is a wonderful vessel which is capable of so many things. But if the change doesn’t happen naturally and according to the right speed, you only increase the risk of burning out every chance you get.

So if you want your body to get stronger, you have to respect the recovery process.