Are you under-resting? – the importance of rest days


In a society in which we are expected to be working out, pushing ourselves to our limits and giving 110% all the time, taking a break is often neglected.

We all need to take a break from work, different activities and daily chores from time to time and there is no expectation when it comes to fitness.
In order to adapt to your training, your body needs some rest frequently. Actually, this is what will make you stronger – rather than going to the gym 24/7 and breaking muscles down constantly not letting them being repaired.

Especially for women, overdoing it can be a serious problem. Their bodies are more sensitive than male ones because of protective mechanisms that make sure women are in hormone balance to get pregnant.

You might be asking yourself right now “Am I not giving my body enough rest?”. Well, to answer this question, I’ve done some research to provide you with signs for under-resting.

Signs of under-resting and over-training


1. Extended muscle soreness and slow muscle recovery

It’s is normal to have sore muscles after an intense session in the gym but this shouldn’t last longer than one or two days. If you are still sore after this period of time, your body needs more rest in order to your muscles to recover.

2. Under-performing and halted progress

Performing less well in the gym is another common sign you are overtraining and not giving yourself enough rest. When you already feel like you are at your max while warming up, you know you probably should stop and take some time off.

Overtraining can even lead into a muscle-burning phase at it’s worst!

3. Being overly fatigued and feeling very exhausted post-workout

Being super fatigued after a workout means that you needed too much of your energetic reserves. If you had a couple of bad night’s sleep and a lot of other stresses and anxieties of life going on at the same time, you will sooner or later crash.

4. Lack of motivation

If you have to force yourself to work out, you may be overdoing it. Forcing yourself will elevate stress hormone levels and this can lead to fatigue, chronical tiredness and even excess weight.

5. Increased injury and pain

Overtraining means not giving your body enough time to recuperate between workouts. At some point, you may be training in a weakend state and if this happens too often, you likely increase your chance of injuries. A nagging pain – especially in the back, knee ankle and foot –  that won’t resolve can be an indicator of excessive inflammation.

6. Easily getting sick

The immunes system falters if you are constantly under stress which you will be without taking regular rest days.

7. Acne

As hormones are key when it comes to acne, training can also affect your skin. If you over-exercise, your hormones can become out of balance which will typically lead to cystic acne around the mouth and jaw.

8. Missed or irregular menstrual periods

Especially the stressful demand of exercise coupled with a caloric deficit can cause Amenorrhea or irregular periods.

9. Hypothyroid – feeling cold, thin hair, brittle nails, constipation

The symptoms mentioned above are signs of hypothyroidism which is one of the most common results of over-exercise. Generally, if you are never taking rest, you are at high danger of hypothyroidism.

10. Insomnia

We all know the importance of sleep. If you feel like you can’t sleep even though you had an exhausted day and an intense workout, this can also be an indicator that you need some serious rest. Mostly, insomnia is a result of a combination of nervous system and hormonal system overload.

How much rest should you take?


The amount of rest days depends on the intensity of your workouts and how fast your body is able to recover. A very experienced athlete should take at least one day per week off. Generally, I recommend listening to your body and throw in as many rest days as necessary.
If you have been under-resting seriously for a long time, your body may need weeks or even longer to recover fully.

Talking to my trainer about this topic (which motivated me to write this blog post), he recommended throwing in a whole week off from time to time.
If you find it difficult to take your rest days, remember: training doesn’t make you stronger – rest does!

Links for further information





I’m not a professional in this field and all information provided has been researched carefully. Always consult a professional if you are not sure whether you are over-training!

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