How Many Rest Days Do I Need? Rest vs Active Rest; Overtraining Symptoms & How to Avoid Overtraining

A common mistake of people new to exercising - and really even among experienced exercisers - is to workout too hard, too often. This might not seem like a big problem initially, but overtraining can effect your health and is something that needs to be taken seriously. Aside from that, the negative impact of not allowing for proper rest periods in your routine can make it far more likely that you don't adhere to your workout habit, due to feeling poorly, excess fatigue or soreness, or even injury, if you aren't allowing your body to heal in between workouts.

So how many rest days do you really need a week?
The number of rest days that you take each week really depends on how intensely you train, especially relative to your fitness level. In a nutshell, this is a good rule; if a muscle group is still sore from a previous workout, do not train it intensely again until it has healed and is no longer sore. For example, if my thighs are sore from a lower body strength workout I did yesterday, I should not train them again today - or the next, if they are still very sore. In this case, it doesn't mean I have to take a complete rest day; I could train my upper body or core, or stick to light cardio, yoga, stretching, etc, etc. Balancing your workouts to target different muscle groups on different days of the week allows you to take fewer rest days, but even then, you should save at least 1-2 days a week for rest, or at least active rest or active recovery. 

What is active rest or active recovery? 
You don't have to spend your whole "rest day" on the couch (you can, that's fine too!). Light physical activity on a rest day can help boost your mood, your health, and your progress or ability to maintain your weight or fitness level. If you're looking to stay active even on your rest days, a good rule is that the activity should not be something that would cause you sore muscles. Whether you're walking, swimming, doing yoga, stretching, going for a light hike, etc, it should be at a reduced intensity from your normal workouts - meaning that even an active rest day is on somewhat of a sliding scale relative to your own fitness levels. 

What happens if I over-exercise? What are the signs of overtraining and how do I know if I'm overtraining?
If you don't implement enough rest into your workout program, you are putting yourself at risk for overtraining, which increases your chances of health repercussions and otherwise avoidable injuries. If you think you might be overtraining, it's a good idea to talk to your doctor. The best thing you can do is to listen to your own body; if you think it might be asking for more rest, don't think that listening to that request means that you're a failure or "slacking". Rest is an important part of fitness and can be what makes the hard work you put towards your goals count. 

Overtraining symptoms are diverse and different for each person, but here are a few symptoms you should watch out for:

  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Severe fatigue
  • Slower healing & longer recovery times
  • Changes in mood and ability to focus or concentrate 
  • Amenorrhea - Missed or very irregular periods
  • Aches & pains - particularly of the joints
  • Depressed immune system - increased chance of catching colds and other infections
  • Changes in performance - if you find yourself moving slower, lifting less than you're normally able to, having to take more rest breaks and generally not push yourself as hard as you normally do, you could be overtraining

How many rest days do you take a week & do you use active recovery in your program? What do you do on your active rest days?

Comments

1Finch

12/10/16 10:14pm

Hi Kelli & Daniel,

I really enjoyed this. Thank you.


I would love for you guys to do a vlog / article on how to recover faster:

Is it possible to get the body to produce less lactic acid, so that you can recover faster?

In the past, I have pulled my hamstring stretching too deeply post workout when I had a lot of lactic acid in my muscles, and thus couldn't feel that I was stretching too far. My muscles are always so tight in the coming days after a workout. Do I just stretch very, very lightly until all soreness is gone?

Are there certain foods that aid in recovery?

How important are my pre and post workout snacks for recovery?

Do you guys religiously believe in protein powder immediately post workout?

Should I up my water intake on recovery days?

Which recovery methods are gimmicks?

Is foam rolling really all that it's cracked up to be?

Etc.


It would be much appreciated! Thank you for all that you do.

Finch

11/11/16 12:00am

Thank you so much for providing your insight again into another issue that's been bothering me. I am the type of person who tends to overexercise and push myself to the limit when I need to achieve some goal (whether it is losing weight or making my butt look rounder :D). I usually feel kinda guilty on my rest days, especially when I don't have any extra activities planned for this day, and I end up torturing myself with another one of your intense cardio or strength workouts.

I've noticed that it has an impact on the way I exercise in the following days, I really can't do my best and push myself as hard as usual, and my muscles become numb, not even just sore. I am trying to convince myself now that I shouldn't be that cruel to myself. I am trying to stick to yoga of pilates, at least. And watching this video has confirmed once again that I am not doing myself any good with this constant overexercising. Thank you again for putting me on the right track :)

cowbunny

09/27/16 1:26pm

this was really helpful... :)

mmwilli4

09/22/16 10:03am

I believe I am an over-trainer. I WOULD say I take 1 active rest day per week, but after reading this and thinking about it I'm not sure if that's accurate. My workout schedule is this:
7 days/week: 3-4 mile brisk walk first thing in the morning
Min of 10 miles (20,000 steps) daily
Ab weight challenge 3 days per week
FB 6 days per week
Disc golf Friday, Saturday, & Sunday
Walk at lunch on Monday
Lift weights on Wednesday & Friday
Sunday: the day I thought was my active rest day just because I was not doing HIIT or PIIT
I am certainly always tired and don't eat enough, but I have always blamed my fatigue on my lupus (an autoimmune disease I have) because I make me tired all the time, regardless of exercise.

COCOANIBS:)

08/20/16 4:03am

Wow. This comes as a bit of a shock to me... I'm 17 & I have loads of problems with my body and how it looks. I lost 40 lbs in about a year with your videos, but recently I noticed the scale isn't budging. I eat healthy and everything and I just started eating something over 1200 calories because I started exercising more.... My current workout structure is something like this:
MON - lower body strength training & core
TUE - HIIT & upper body strenght training
WED - Upper & lower body strength training
THU - Total body strength trainings & HIIT blend & core
FRI - pilates & yoga
SAT - cardio
SUN - Total body strength, HIIT & pilates blend
So I'm really trying to tone up (lift my butt and get a more flat stomach) but I noticed it kind of isn't working as well as I want it to...
I also didn't have my period in about 2 months now & I feel pain in my back & feet. Reading this I think I might be overdoing it a bit & I'm starting to feel really depressed. I loved exercising at first but now not so much... I'm scared to cut down on my workouts because I don't want to gain the weight back & I aso read that when you are younger you can do more exercise than when you're an adult, so I don't know what to do any more... Any advice?

Elisha

08/02/16 7:19am

Video glitching? Kelli talking in daniela voice and vice versa. Lol, but this is awesome! Thanks fitness blender!

sweetchilli87

07/12/16 9:26pm

I take two rest days a week, but typically at least one of those is an active rest day. This is my current workout structure and it seems to be working pretty well for me so far:

Mon - Hot yoga class or vinyasa flow at home
Tues - Rest day
Wed - Upper body strength (with cardio/abs to warm up)
Thurs - Lower body strength (with HIIT warm up)
Fri - Rest day (maybe yoga or Pilates at home)
Saturday - Upper body strength (with cardio/abs to warm up)
Sunday - Lower body strength (with HIIT/cardio warm up)

As per Kelli and Daniel's recommendations I am getting in my 4 strength training sessions per week without feeling like I'm overdoing it, by incorporating a rest day in between two back-to-back strength training days.

Ashnorlar

05/10/16 9:06am

I think I may be doing too much and it's affecting my weight loss efforts. In the past two months I really kicked my workouts up to high gear because I was frustrated that I wasn't losing weight. I did two workouts or so a day of different things from running to biking to fb workouts to rollerblading...whatever! I always made sure I had burned 1000calories or more and had a calorie deficit of at least 1000 after tracking all my calories (still ate between 1700 and 2000) calories. But I'm not losing weight. Only 2 pounds down in those two months and I'm even more frustrated. I think now that I've started the fb 8 week fat loss program I'll continue eating the amount I do but give myself more rest and cool it on some of the cardio. It's just so hard when you go on you tube and watch weight loss stories of girls eating 1200 calories or going to the gym for hours on end and wonder why you can't lose weight that way either. And it's not like I'm small, I now weigh 196lbs and according to most people the weight should just "fall off" someone like me. Swimming in absolute frustration but going to try and take a different approach. Luckily this time round I still don't want to give up so there's a plus :D

COHikerGirl84

04/19/16 6:52am

I appreciate this video! I started using FB to help improve my hiking strength and endurance. I live for multi-day backpacking and long day-hikes, and while it's great workout in itself (especially above 9,000 ft.), I still wasn't feeling strong. I want functional fitness so that I can cover more miles and see more beautiful scenery! This website has already started changing my life in the last month since I discovered it! Not only am I finding I enjoy the FB workouts (yay for less monotonous cardio and more strength training, not to mention HIIT!), but I'm naturally eating MUCH better now. I am seeing myself take a more balanced approach to food and fitness, which is a far cry from my previously unhealthy and obsessive methods. No more deprivation, but moderation! I can't thank Kelli and Daniel enough for creating this valuable resource!

04/18/16 11:33pm

I usually take a one day per week to do absolutely nothing and I think it's just enough.

MCS1994

02/25/16 8:21am

I just finished my second 1000-calorie workout of the week (I did one on Sunday and have worked out every day since then - I'm a beginning dancer as well as doing FB, so I'm at the studio Monday-Wednesday nights and still do FB workouts in the mornings if I have time). It was the kickboxing and HIIT workout and I've done it at least fifteen times since I started using FB. It's one of my favorite workouts. Unfortunately...I barely made it through it. I started to feel intense fatigue early in the workout, but I pushed through to the end because "I didn't want to be lazy". I didn't want to think I was overtraining, because I still have body fat I desperately want to burn and I generally eat like a horse (clean, but I eat a LOT in my own opinion). I'm building muscle, but not losing fat quickly enough for my own mind. Looks like I may need to take three rest days in a row instead of two (I normally rest Friday and Sunday) this week...people keep telling me, but it never truly hit me that in order for the muscle to burn fat, I have to give it recovery time to build up and heal. I spend too much time feeling guilty for still eating a lot even on my rest days! -_-

zaphikel13

12/30/15 11:33am

I had to take a couple days off from the FB30 program at the end of the 6th week cuz my body was just hurting so badly everyday and I was majorly fatigued. I'm pretty sure I was experiencing overtraining. I don't think doing the program alone caused it, but since I also have 2 very physical jobs and I ride my bike or walk everywhere it definitely put me over the edge! Now that I'm well rested though I'm looking forward to tackling those last 2 weeks!

Lol

12/22/15 5:00am

Thank you a lot! I have defenetly to prevent overtraining, espacially because I'm maybe a bit to light. I have between 1-2 rest days (sometimes active rest), but I really train hard the other days. I think, I'm going to slow down it a little bit.

pruniersenfleurs

12/09/15 7:30pm

Depression
Loss of appetite
Severe fatigue
Changes in mood and ability to focus or concentrate

i have those symptoms but I blame college :(

3ash

12/06/15 11:07pm

Thank you. That was very helpful. I was organizing my workout calendar, and that helped me a lot.

ISHY_DUDE

12/03/15 10:17am

wow! thank you. i was into zumba and slow exercise but after watching your YouTube videos i think i might get the body i want way more faster

doratheexplorer

11/28/15 8:13am

Thank you for sharing this! This is what I love about you guys. I feel that I can trust the information you give me because you also always promote a healthy & balanced diet rather than getting people to buy into pills & potions or omitting something from their diet.

I've been training every day with only 1 active rest day per week for 5-6 weeks until I started getting a stiff neck and a migraine attack with aura that put everything on hold a week ago. I'm now taking things much slower, did one of your cardio workouts yesterday (difficulty 3) and going to do some stretching and cleaning today.

You've totally sold me on the 8 week programme — so once I'm back to my usual self, I will get into this. Far better to have a proper training plan, rather than overtraining.

claire312005

11/26/15 9:34am

im glad i read this i try most days been doing the insane hit video for months now but as i have insomnia im always tired so struggle alot some days to do it and was trying to do every day as i didnt realise about the overtraining but kept making me feel sick halfway through but some days now i cant do it everyday as im too tired but because of that i have been feeling bad about myself for not doing it and panicking that i would put weight back on that ive been losing by not doing it everyday so im glad to see this so now i know that im doing ok still not heavy exercising every day so thank you for that

dionyq

08/22/15 9:52am

Ahm... Maybe I am overdoing it then.

Since April I exercise every day: ashtanga yoga at home twice a week, gym at home twice a week, tennis classes twice a week, aerial fabric acrobatics class once a week and I use my bicycle to go to work.

I discovered Fitness Blender recently and I love it, but I have to see how to reduce the exercise days in my everyday life...

Thank you for letting us know!

07/26/15 4:05am

1

07/24/15 11:34pm

I'm so glad I ran into this! I'm new at working out and I have been working out everyday. I had no idea about this. I'm still trying to get the hang of everything. Thank you fitness blender for providing this sort of information.

Maria1892

07/21/15 12:44pm

I am on my second to last week of FBfit and I have 2 rest days a week, sometimes I do the optional 6th day of streching, yoga, pilates etc. I was due to have my period 2 weeks after I started and it was 10 days late but I guess it was because I was not used to working out so much. I hadn't exercised properly for 3 years. Now everything is back to normal and I have never felt better in my life.
I've lost about 8 pounds which I guess is not that much BUT my body looks so much better and I feel amazing. I am 31 years old and I know myself enough now to realise that I could never be on a strict diet so I eat everything I want in moderation, even if that means having a piece of chocolate cake once a week. The only things I don't touch is fizzy sugary drinks and fried food and never order takeaways.
I love my rest days as much as I love working out. Thank you D and K for everything you do!

Luvanotafighta

07/15/15 11:17am

My work out partner and I do Monday through Friday workouts. Cardio then strength or weight training. Saturday and Sunday can be more of a chore workout like laundry, cleaning or swimming and walking. Sometimes if we push hard during the week I do nothing on weekends except watch Netflix and do laundry. :)
Thank you for the videos they are really pushing my body from my normal routines so I am liking (and hating) them a lot.

Michelle

07/12/15 5:27pm

I take one day of rest usually on Sunday. That works best for me, I exercise first thing in the morning which really gets me up and ready to conquer the day. I am currently doing the 8 week maintenance/crosstraining program and meal plan ebook. This plan is awesome and I strongly recommend it. I recently lost over 30 pounds since December of last year because I was ready for a lifestyle change. Everyone please be sure to rest your bodies at last one day per week. I did some over training in the beginning and was sooooo sore, irritable and exhausted. I exercised hard straight through the week and never rested. It was a learning experience and I vowed to to never relive that muscle pain again. Have a super day! Peace and love

Runcha

05/22/15 1:07am

I take 2 rest days in a week. Sometimes it's 2 days in a row (saturday and sunday), sometimes 1 in a middle of week and second on sundays.

orthorn

05/21/15 7:31am

I had to take a week off. I have been exhausted and I know I don't eat enough. I love these workouts. I am very hard on myself and very critical of my body. Some days I just hate how I feel and do a workout to boost my mood. Thanks K&D

superreal

05/20/15 5:49pm

Can anyone reccomend the best workout plan..i have bought a lifting workout book. Im also a recovering not eating wnough and losing my menses.. i dont get it. i weighed 264 and now 165..i have hained muscle but i am scared to eat anything and am always looking to exercise more and more and losing my fun with it. Im frustrated. What is the best workout program fitness blender has? Im ready to tone up. I have been lifting for nearly 1 year and only tones up a bit.

sonnyboy

05/20/15 1:25am

Where are the bloopers? I like your bloopers. Don't say this Vlog went perfect in the fist shot.

My working scedule kind of makes me have resting days from your workouts. During nightshifts my body really doesn't want a workout, besides a very short and low impact workout the day after my last nightshift.
After a dayshift I'm to tired too most of the times.

Thank you for your good work.

matrixideal

05/20/15 12:11am

Hi. I have some problems with no period for 2 months. I didn't think that it can be from the workouts. I usually take my rest days (1-2) and I eat from 1400 cal (from the food plan) or more (for example, when I don't eat only half a fruit and eat the hole fruit...) and it is enough for me (sometimes I feel that I ate too much).
Thanks for sharing that. I also went to the doctor, but he gave me some pills.
Maybe this is happening because I didn't exercise for 2-3 years, and now from February 2015 I do this regular trainings and my body didn't accommodate yet with it.

P.S. Thanks Daniel and Kelli for your great work! You are an inspiration to me.

mo5445

05/19/15 7:22pm

slavatina,

I've been where you are. It's no fun!!! I had no period for a year, irritable all the time, anxious, couldn't sleep. I finally went to the doctor and found out that I had elevated liver enzymes due to over training and under eating. Are you sure you are eating enough for your fitness level? A lot of changes take place in the body when you exercise and/or increase your fitness level. And your body NEEDS the FUEL!! Just going off my experience, I would take a break for a few days, maybe up to a couple weeks. Reassess why you began exercising to being with and if the current amount that you train is truly sustainable for life. Your health is far more important than any number on any scale. Your lack of menstruation is a sign that your body has ceased non life essential functions due to lack of proper fuel and/or over training. It is an extremely healthy function of a child bearing aged female body to menstruate. Exercise is incredibly healthy and FB is AWESOME! But, make sure that your exercise schedule is for the long term, and for the good of your health. Trust me, once you get to a place where you are fueling your exercise correctly AND exercising in a sustainable pattern, you will being to feel INCREDIBLE!!! I wish you all the best!

P.S. Thank you, Daniel and Kelli! You guys always keep it real, and that is greatly appreciated!!!

alaynalynn@hotmail.com

05/19/15 5:24pm

I am also doing the 8 week fat loss for busy people program. My rest days are usually supposed to fall on Saturday and Sunday because those are the most intense days at my job. Because my job is physically demanding I have been skipping the optional workouts.
I don't like having two rest days in a row, it's harder to get back into the fitness groove.... focusing on eating healthy and getting enough water really helps though.

darkchild

05/19/15 4:36pm

I work out M-F and rest S & S.....though I do walk one or both days. If I find myself to sore or just really tired I will either not work out or do a light stretch or take a walk.
My point is I will and do take rest days. They are just as important to my taking care of myself as the workouts.

Thank you guys for all you do.....I so appreciate it.

orchidiva

05/19/15 4:11pm

1-2 days a week (depending on my schedule)...though 2 days consecutively makes me antsy!

orchidiva

05/19/15 4:09pm

working out is my stress-outlet & "happy place", so i've gone weeks w/ no rest days but i definitely feel it on my body as a result - so now, i make myself take

audramiracle

05/19/15 1:16pm

My active rest days are the days I work. I'm an ER Nurse and i work three 12.5 to 13 houts shifts. I can't seem to get myself up any earlier than 5 AM and I have to leave by 6 AM to get to work on time so theres no time to get a work out done and still get ready for work. I generally don't get home until after 8 PM and most of the time I'm too emotionally or mentally drained to do a workout before bed. So I have 3 active rest days each week but I'm saving lives and on my feet the entire 12 - 13 hour shift.

slavatina

05/19/15 12:41pm

Depression
Severe fatigue
Changes in mood and ability to focus or concentrate
Amenorrhea - Missed or very irregular periods

I have all of this... seems like I'm doing something wrong :(

Eileenann

05/19/15 11:27am

I take Saturdays and Sundays but every day is an 'active rest day' for me especially at this time of year. I have a big garden to mow and look after so even on Sundays when I'm not allowed to mow, (I live in Switzerland where they like to have one quiet day), I've plenty of planting, weeding and cutting back to do.

metrinko

05/19/15 10:30am

I always take one rest day, but it's not always the day the program says...does that make a difference? RIght now I'm on the 8 week program for busy people. I missed Thursday but picked up on Friday where I was supposed to be - so when I got to my regular rest day I skipped it.

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