I had a blog suggestion from Nicola B about when to take rest days. Thank you for the suggestion… sort of. This has sent me spiralling haha. I am going to take a few posts to discuss this topic, starting with this one.
First, we need to think about when to rest during a workout (micro). Then, when to rest during your week and month (macro) which will be the next post… or two.
It seems simple, rest when you need to. But who of you knows when you need to? When you are about to collapse on the floor, when coach isn’t looking, when you are on the exercise you hate and realize you have to go potty.
As a coach, I would say when in doubt, take a break (we don’t want to clean your vomit off the floor haha). I see far to many people pushing through when they should be resting because they think that is what is expected of them, what is better, or because no one else is resting.
Rest periods during your session, should match the performance goals of that session. Keeping in mind, my audience are general population just trying to be fit and healthy, NOT pro/ semi pro athletes looking for increased, measured performance outputs which should have programmed and timed rest periods.
To keep this simple. If you are training for strength you need to be able to use the heaviest weights possible for the programmed sets/ reps. Same goes for power, but you also need to be able to move explosively. To get stronger, or more powerful, you have to be using a load that is just outside of what your body can actually handle. Your body will then adapt so it can handle it better next time (aka get stronger). You need to give yourself enough recovery between sets, that you can match/ beat the set you previously did. If you grab a lighter load, or don’t jump as high just so you can rush to your next set, you have missed the point. Your body will have no reason to adapt, because you are NOT truly completing every set at the capacity needed to spark that adaptation.
If you are training for endurance, the idea is the same, but the rest periods need to be shorter, so the adaptation is more about lasting longer at a moderate intensity, or decreasing the time required to recover.
If you are doing HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), you should be focused on heart rate and modify your exercises so it allows you to safely continue exercising, with minimal rest and without risk of injury.
In short, rest as long as needed to avoid injury and maintain or increase performance. There are so many more factors that affect your rest. If you have a specific question please leave it in the comments below and I can respond more directly to your situation.