Rest days - they're not dirty words! In fact, programming rest days at appropriate times and at an appropriate frequency in your training cycle is almost just as important as the actual training you're undertaking.
"But surely more training is better....right?"
As with most questions we get asked as physio's and exercise professionals, there is a level of "it depends" to the answer. If you're training zero times per week well, yes, more training is definitely better, but if you're already training 4-5 times a
week, more training may potentially be of detriment to you.
It's a case of training smarter and not just harder!
So, what role do rest days play in this and why are they so important?
To put it simply, rest days allow your body to adapt to the training you have put it through and to dissipate cumulative fatigue. Let's look at this a bit closer.
Your body adapting to training
Believe it or not, during training your body actually gets weaker (yes, weaker). This is due to a number of factors including but not limited to fatigue build up, muscle micro damage and depletion of energy stores (particularly muscle glycogen).
Depending on your training age (how long you've been training consistently for), your body will take around 48 hours to completely recover/adapt from a training bout. Those who are extremely well trained, e.g. Iron men/women, will take significantly less time, where as average Joe Blogs like myself and most amateur athletes will take 36-48 hours to recover/adapt fully to the training we put our bodies through.