It’s not always a bad thing to skip the gym. Overuse can put incredible stresses on the body, and sometimes rest and a bit of time away from the gym can have a beneficial impact.
There are certain times when you should factor in a rest day to give yourself the best prep:
- If you know you’re going to have a heavy workout session, then ensure you get a rest day in beforehand. The rest will give your muscle fibres the chance to repair themselves so you can lift more weight the next day.
- When you want to optimise any muscle gains you’ve put on, then you should be resting the day after you’ve worked your muscles enough to micro-tear the fibres. It’s the tearing that encourages the repair, but in order to repair the rest is necessary.
- If you’re tired or ill rest beforehand. You might want to push through in an effort to overcome your hangover, or your cold, but sometimes it pays just to stay put. Just switch your days around so you rest when you’d planned for the gym, and gym on the rest day.
- If you like a peaceful gym then make Monday your day of rest. Statistically Mondays are the busiest gym days because people have fewer social engagements on Monday evenings. If you workout later in the week then you’ll have more space to yourself.
- If you’re training for a marathon and you’re running all the time, then rest days are crucial to staying in good shape. One rest day is needed every tenth day on average for your glycogen levels to be restored.
Word of warning though - skip too many sessions and your motivation will take a dive and so will your fitness. If you miss a day, don't beat yourself up. But make sure you get back on the wagon as soon as you can.