One of the least recognised aspects of exercise is actually one of the most important - not exercising.. Sounds strange doesn't it? But rest is just as important as the training itself, for a number of reasons I will list below.
Muscle recovery: when you exercise, you are creating tiny tears in the muscle fibers, these then get rebuilt, bigger and stronger than before (with correct nutrition, but that's another article in itself). Your body uses its ‘down-time’ as a chance to perform this recovery. If you take this away, the muscle will continue to tear and fatigue and without the recovery process this provides no benefits to your body.
Keeping the intensity: take my word for it, you will always benefit more from 5 intense training sessions than 10 lackluster workouts. Giving your body time to rest and recover gives you the opportunity to enter every workout with your full attention and give it all the energy you have. If you are always entering a workout exhausted and sore, your sessions will not get the attention they deserve and your results will suffer.
Mental health: it’s always nice to see improvement in our workouts, whether that means lifting heavier, moving faster or even just feeling better afterwards. Nobody hits PB’s every time they train, but without giving your body recovery time, you are almost ensuring that you will not be breaking any personal records. Training day in and day out without seeing improvement takes a huge toll on your mental state and is a main cause for lack of motivation.
Now don’t get me wrong, i’m not saying take every second day off or take long breaks from training! I’m saying those muscles need recovery, so maybe try something different on your days off. If you’re a weightlifter, have a day to focus on stretching. If you’re a keen runner, try and go for a swim two or three times a month. In saying that, a total day off every now and then wouldn’t hurt either.
Even if you’re a gym ADDICT, try taking a day off here and there and see how you go, my bet is that you will enjoy your gym days even more, and start seeing results a lot faster.