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Rest is more important than the workout. 

Can someone argue with that? If so, send me a message and we can talk it over. 


Sometimes mustering up the motivation to work out is a challenge. But other times, like when we’re really determined to reach a goal or we feel like we need to make up for lost time, the opposite is true.

Sometimes we take on that frantic “must work out every day” mindset and completely forget that one of the most important parts of exercising effectively is giving our bodies time to recover.“We have become an all or nothing society,” says Russell Wynter a NASM certified master trainer and co-owner of MadSweat. “People 

don't know how to exercise properly. If you follow what everyone else is doing or the latest fad program, more often than not it will do more harm than good.”  

He said that many programs incorporate prolonged bouts of stress or intolerable amounts of stress that can lead to exhaustion.

“When the stress is too much physiologically for the system to handle, it can and will lead to overuse injuries, such as stress fractures, muscle strains, and joint pain,” he said.

So often we hear about the important health benefits of exercise and the negative side effects of inactivity, but it’s not as common to hear about why we also need to allow our bodies some time to rest.


Yes, it’s important to incorporate small bouts of movement throughout every day, but intense workouts definitely shouldn’t be a daily occurrence.

“Inadequate rest may lead to over-training syndrome which commonly occurs in fitness enthusiasts that train beyond their body's ability to recover, says Crystal Reeves, also a NASM certified master trainer and a co-owner of MadSweat. “When you perform excessive amounts of exercise without proper rest and recovery you may experience some harmful side effects including decreased performance, fatigue, altered hormonal states, poor sleeping patterns, reproductive disorders, decreased immunity, loss of appetite, and mood swings.”


So what amount of exercise is the ideal amount?

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio exercise per week. This can be achieved through spending 30 to 60 minutes working out moderately five days per week or spending 20 to 60 minutes working out vigorously three days per week. For strength training, ACSM recommendations suggest training each major muscle group two or three days per week and leaving at least 48 hours for recovery between each training session.

“You should have at least one day of rest before attempting to work similar muscle groups again,” says Wynter. “The general rule is it requires a minimum of 48 hours to recover with full recovery seen within 72 to 96 hours post workout.”


He explained that different factors, like the intensity level of your workout, the total volume of your weekly training, your training experience, and your age, will all influence the exact amount of recovery you’ll need.

“You always want to allow enough time to recover fully,” Reeves said. “But not so much time that you lose the gains you've made.”

Resting is just as important as working out because it’s an equal part of the total process required to build strength, endurance, and muscle.

“Working out, especially resistance training, breaks your body tissues down. In fact, resistance training breaks down muscles causing microscopic tears,” Wynter said. Rest days allow your muscles, nerves, bones, and connective tissue time to rebuild.”

He explained that this regeneration process—which also requires water, food, and sometimes supplements—rebuilds your body tissues allowing them to grow back stronger.


Put simply, active rest involves replacing your formally scheduled workout with another, less intense form of movement. Not to be confused with complete rest, an active rest day doesn’t involve sitting on the couch, catching up on Games of Thrones and eating butter with some popcorn under it.

While it’s great to take complete rest after a hard workout, sometimes active recovery is a better choice. The trick is finding a balance between being active enough and going easy enough. Watch the video to the right as Sage Rountree explains the benefits of active recovery and how it can fit into your training schedule.

Examples of active rest

When it comes to active rest, the only limitation is your imagination. Choose from the following list of ideas, depending on your interest and the intensity of your regular workouts; the more intensely you train, the more ‘restful’ your active rest should be and the more frequently your body will benefit from taking an active rest day.

  • Low intensity cardio

  • Walking out of doors

  • Ice or inline skating

  • Swimming

  • Kayaking

  • Golfing

  • Dancing

  • Yoga

  • Massage

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