Do you really need a rest day in fitness?

It has almost become a mantra of sorts in the sporting world. People talk about "rest days" all the time and even people that don't work out that hard talk about how "today is a rest day." There actually hasn't been that much research done on rest days in the scientific world and I can't really find any particularly good reason why this notion ever began. It is something people frequently say though. So I ask again..... do you really need a rest day?

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There are loads of articles out there about how rest days are important and they list benefits such as "restocking glycogen storage" and "helping your body repair itself" but then they don't really go into any scientific argument to support these things. I don't even know what glycogen storage is. Sounds made up to me.

The way that I look at rest days is that I don't really think that you need them, especially for a normie like me that will only exercise for about 30 minutes to 1 and half hours per day anyway. Even on the days that I am in the gym for hours there are lots of breaks between sets because I physically can't do the set again. Other days I am doing interval training and take no breaks at all. To be honest the HIIT days are something I enjoy quite a bit more because I hate wasting time and to me, long breaks between sets are a waste of time and it normally results in me just staring at my phone.

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The argument for rest days seems to be just so that someone can have something to talk about on their blog or fitness podcast because there isn't actually any science to back these claims up. In fact, most actual research that has been done has found that precisely the opposite is the case.

In this really boring medical abstract conducted by actual researchers rather than online fitness influencers, they actually found that in elite ironman competitors that the people who were the fastest were always the ones that took the least amount of "rest days."

Their ultimate conclusion was this

The best predictors of race performance were age, previous best half-Ironman time, goal time, and importance of reaching this goal.

That seems simple enough because of course those are important factors. "Importance of reaching this goal" is a bit vague but I think that just means how motivated they were. I know that when I was in a triathlon and also some half-marathons I found that my mental state played a much bigger role than my fitness did. A lot of exercise is a mental game.

This is also true for me and many others in the gym. On days that i am super motivated, I find that my lifts are much better i have increased my personal bests on days when I went in there thinking that I was definitely going to accomplish that. On other, less motivated days where I didn't really want to be in the gym, I found that I couldn't even get close to my personal bests despite the fact that nothing had really changed about my physical state.

So here is my personal take on "rest days." You don't need them and there is not much information out there that indicates they do anything. I do recommend mixing things up though and if you are sore in say, your shoulders, skip working that out. But this doesn't mean that you shouldn't do anything at all. Even if it is just a walk, I think daily exercise is really important for everyone.

combo fatty.jpg from athlete in my 20's to fat ass in my 30's to the strongest and most dedicated to fitness that I have ever been in my life in my 40's. I dropped 50 lbs and kept it off at a stage in your life where it is the "hardest" to do so. You have to stay vigilant though and small, manageable changes in your life will be necessary. Rest days, IMO, are not necessary


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@cryptoandcoffee wrote:

I tend to agree with you on this. If your goal is too lose weight I understand as a day off your metabolism still works. In theory you are losing weight quicker than when you were doing nothing before the exercises started. That is how I viewed rest days lol but you always end up doing something anyway.