Rest Days Aren’t Optional

It’s been a few weeks since I blogged about fitness. I stuck to my exercise routine pretty well during the holidays. (My diet, though, definitely had more treats included it than normal).

On a recent rest day, I thought about an experiment I did last summer that turned out to be a bad idea.

The Experiment 

You see, I wasn’t satisfied with my progress last summer. I wanted to grow stronger more quickly.

The idea I came up with was to work a different part of my body every day of the week without taking any days off. I thought I might be able to rest my arms while doing bodyweight and free weight exercises to strengthen my legs. If it was successful, it could have been a way for me to build muscle faster than I was currently doing.

It lasted about a week before I ended up pulling a muscle in my back and needing to take time off to recuperate. Luckily, it was a minor injury that only needed time to heal.

Spoiler alert: pulled muscles aren’t fun! Boy, was that a silly thing to do. Instead of growing stronger, I had to stop lifting weights altogether for a week or two while I healed.

Bodies Need to Rest

What I didn’t think about was the fact that weightlifting doesn’t only exercise the one set of muscles that you’re focusing on for a particular workout.

Your legs still need to keep you upright, and your core muscles still need to help you maintain the right form in order to prevent injury and to help you get the most out of your workout. Often your arms also still need to hold the weights or prop up a certain part of your body as well depending on what kind of routine you’re doing.

It is so important to give all of these muscle groups enough time to rest and recover. If one of them is injured or overworked, your entire body will feel the effects of that.

Minds Also Need to Rest

The other thing I noticed during my experience was how mentally tiring it was to lift weights every single day. It was a more subtle effect, but it is something that bothered me a little as I woke up every morning and realized that I needed to strengthen another part of my body.

One of the most interesting things about this effect was that it wasn’t something I’d expected to happen. I was prepared for the possibly that my body wouldn’t like this change for any number of reasons, but I never would have guessed that my mind would also find it difficult.

It turns out that rest days aren’t optional after all. Everyone needs them!

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