5 Important Reasons to Take a Break from Training

Sometimes the best way to make progress is to step back and take a breath. Not just zen: It's sports science.
icon 4 min
Eine Frau hört zu hause entspannt Musik ©Westend61

A lot of people think that taking a break from exercise is out of the question. The average gym goer might wonder how it’s possible to reach their fitness goals if they’re not pumping iron every day. The good news: You won’t get out of shape if you take planned workout breaks now and then. In fact, they can actually help you progress even faster! Find out how taking breaks from working out is better than always pushing on.

Illnesses and injuries are among the most common reasons that many rest days. But there are plenty of other solid reasons to hit the pause button on your fitness routine.

Going on vacation for a few weeks a year is a perfect opportunity to take a longer workout break. But you don’t need to wait for a holiday to take time off from exercise. Pay attention to your body and give it just what it needs. Sometimes that’s a gym sesh, but other times it’s a nap. Trust that your body has the tools it needs to choose what’s right for it.

Our muscles are much more intelligent than we might realize. In fact, they have their own kind of memory. Muscle memory allows the body to recall specific motor tasks more easily, even if it’s been a while since you last did them. And that means you’ll be able to bounce back more quickly after taking a break from training—no need to worry about starting from zero.

#1 Taking Workout Breaks Helps Avoid Overtraining

Though many may think that more is better when it comes to working out, the opposite is actually true. If you train too often or too hard and put your body through too much, the consequences can be serious. The symptoms of overtraining vary from person to person and include things like reduced performance, muscle loss, weight gain, and chronic fatigue. It can take weeks or even months for your body to recover from such a slump and for you to feel fit enough to return to exercise.

Do you tend to push yourself too far beyond your physical limits? Give yourself a day or two to rest. This will help you avoid overtraining, which can force you to take an even longer break. A rest day is the best safety measure you can take to give your body time to recover.

#2 Your Body Will Recover More Efficiently

The next time you’re so sore from exercise that you can barely walk, take that rest day. Being a little sore is totally normal, but anything that interferes with your ability to go about day-to-day activities requires more attention. In general, 24 to 48 hours is the recommended rest period to let hard-working muscle fibers regenerate.

We all know someone who writes off minor soreness or muscle fatigue to get back to lifting weights or hitting the pavement sooner. And we’ve probably all seen one of those people sidelined with a repetitive strain injury or something even more severe. Right? Ignoring repeated or chronic pain is a huge no-no.

You can go for a run while you’re still sore, but exercise doesn’t just work your muscles. Your joints, tendons, and ligaments are also put through their paces in every workout. Runners might suffer from knee pain, while weight lifters experience tendonitis. And everyone has heard of tennis elbow. So rest now and keep yourself in better overall shape.

In short, your body deserves a vacation, too! Take a break from exercising regularly every now and then to reduce your risk of major injuries and allow your body to fully recover more quickly from high intensity exercise.

A woman with dark and curly hair does yoga during her workout breaks

#3 It Will Clear Your Head

As good as exercise is, it can also be a source of stress. Scheduling an early run before work, taking a shorter lunch break for a quick session, or canceling a date with friends so you don’t miss a workout—all these things can be overwhelming after a certain point.

Simply finding the time to manage your personal and professional commitments plus an exercise routine can build up pressure and eventually lead to burnout. Meanwhile, taking occasional rest days can give you the opportunity to clear your head and start fresh.

#4 You’ll Have Time for Other Activities

There’s no denying that exercise is a time commitment. Yes, it’s good for you, but that doesn’t mean you can always find time for it in your normal routine. If you work out daily, you may even find yourself not knowing what to do when you do finally decide (or are forced) to take a break.

Resting to let your body recover will allow you to get to know yourself better. It’ll give you the time to try out some new hobbies, learn how to meditate, or keep a journal. It can be so good for both your mind and your body to just take a bit of extra time to sleep in or cook a homemade, nutritious meal.

Our tip: Our database of fitness recipes will help you add both variety and nutrients to your plate, on rest days or any day.

The hand of a person of color holds a spoon, dipping into a milk-chocolate-colored smoothie bowl. The bowl is topped with fresh berries, banana slices, and nuts.

Discover our fitness recipes

#5 It Will Renew Your Motivation

Once you get into a routine, getting yourself to work out stops being as difficult as it was in the beginning. In some cases, it may even become automatic. Self-discipline is great but the key to success with fitness is doing workouts that bring you joy.

There’s nothing like a break from exercise to refresh your motivation. Time off will give you the space to remind yourself why you started working out in the first place. You’ll come back to your strength training or weight training with a renewed sense of joy and feel more motivated in the long term.

Our Conclusion

  • Exercising too frequently can lead to overtraining, stress, and boredom.
  • Getting adequate rest, whether for a few days or weeks, will better allow the body to fully recover from injuries, both minor and major.
  • Taking rest days allows you to clear your head and discover what you like to do outside of exercise.
  • After a break, you’re more likely to feel a renewed sense of motivation towards your habits.

Related Articles from foodspring:

Sources for this article

We at foodspring use only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.