Pumped to have a long Memorial Day weekend at home, between Friday and this morning, I got my workout on. This translated into running 33 miles, doing a TRX class, and taking a spin class…which was awesome (and a lot for me these days). This then translated into me wanting to sit in a chair all day today to avoid using my aching muscles…which was NOT awesome. As I sat down to write about rest, I remembered a study I covered a few months ago reporting that the magic number of workouts per week is four…for exactly the reason I experienced today. Study participants who exercised more than four times per week were more likely to spend their non-exercise time sitting and resting than the other groups.
I’m not sure that my magic number is 4X/week, but I am 100% sure it’s not 7X. We all need rest. Not “sit around and watch cartoons all day” rest, but a physical and psychological break from a formal workout. Since having kids, I’m not super proactive about planning rest days (they almost always seem to happen naturally), but I do try to keep loose track of workouts and take a day of rest after four days of medium/hard workouts (I call this the 4:1). Beyond knowing that I followed this plan for three months during the Blue Planet Run without a twinge of injury, I also like it because it’s easier for me to remember than some elaborate schedule. It isn’t perfect…and sometimes it ends up as the 3:1 or the 4:2, but it’s something to aim for and it’s a good reminder to take time to pause…rest…sleep late…stretch…relax…re-set.
How important are rest days to you as you’re planning your workouts? Do you schedule them in or let them happen?