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How Many Rest Days a Week Do You Really Need?

Hayley Dawes
20 October 2023

Dreem Distillery is your go-to product collection to support sleep, rest and recovery. We believe building in moments of down time and adequate rest into your routine helps to support improved energy levels and leaves you feeling more productive and able to handle the stresses of life.

How many rest days a week - we all need them, but how many should we take each week? And, what should we do on these crucial days to maximize our fitness gains? Whether you’re a beginner, advanced athlete, or somewhere in between, keep reading to discover the secrets to optimizing rest days and achieving optimal performance.

Short Summary

  • Find the right balance between exercise and rest to maximize your performance & reach fitness goals.
  • Take advantage of active rest days for improved recovery, reduced muscle soreness, and increased blood circulation.
  • Prioritize regular rest days with sleep, nutrition & low impact activities to prevent overtraining & ensure sustainable progress!

Determining Your Rest Days

How many rest days you actually need depends on various factors, such as your fitness level, workout intensity, and individual goals. Beginners might require more rest days to adjust to physical demands, while experienced athletes may need fewer. It’s essential to strike a balance between exercise and adequate rest to prevent overtraining syndrome and ensure consistent progress.

For example, if you’re engaging in high-intensity interval training (HIIT), you might need more rest days to recover. Skipping rest days can hinder your progress, so always include them in your workout plan. Remember, rest is crucial for achieving your fitness goals, as it allows your central nervous system to recover and helps prevent overtraining and injury.

Fitness Level

Your fitness level plays a significant role in determining your rest days. Generally, beginners may need more rest days than experienced athletes, as their bodies are still adjusting to the physical demands of exercise. Taking more rest days at the beginning can help their muscles and joints recover and rebuild after a workout, aiding their progress in their fitness journey.

On the other hand, advanced athletes can benefit from requiring fewer rest days because their bodies are more accustomed to the physical demands of exercise. This allows their muscles and joints to recover and rebuild more quickly after a workout, reducing sore muscles and improving overall performance.

Workout Intensity

The intensity of your workouts also plays a crucial role in the number of rest days you need. Higher intensity workouts can cause more muscle fatigue, requiring more rest days for recovery. To accurately measure the intensity of your workout, you can use methods such as measuring your heart rate during physical activity or assessing the intensity using the RPE scale.

For HIIT training, it’s recommended to incorporate 3-4 rest days into your exercise plan to ensure you’re getting the most out of your workouts and allowing your muscle groups to recover properly. Remember, alternating between upper and lower body workouts can also help you achieve balanced muscle development.

Individual Goals

Your individual goals, such as weight loss or muscle gain, can greatly impact the number of rest days you need. For instance, if you’re aiming to build muscle, you may need more rest days than someone focusing on losing weight, as rest days aid muscle growth. Additionally, if you’re doing high-intensity workouts, you may need more rest days than someone doing low-intensity workouts.

To ensure that you’re getting the right amount of rest for your goals, consider the intensity of your workouts and adjust your rest days accordingly. This can help you maximize progress and reach your goals.

The Role of Active Rest Days

Active rest days involve low-intensity activities that promote recovery without overexerting your body. An active rest day allows you to stay active without hindering your muscle repair and growth processes, making it an ideal way to spend your rest days.

Light workouts, such as gentle stretching or yoga, can help your body recover and keep you engaged without the intensity of your regular training routine. Not only do you allow your muscles to heal, but you also get to relax and have some fun on your active rest days.

Benefits of Active Rest

Active rest, also known as active recovery, comes with a host of benefits that can significantly impact your recovery and fitness journey. It can help with recovery by increasing blood circulation, decreasing muscle soreness, and improving overall recovery. Additionally, active rest can help you stay injury-free by giving your body the chance to rest and recover between more intense activities, preventing muscle fatigue, and minimizing the risk of overuse injuries.

By incorporating active rest into your routine, you give your body the opportunity to rest and recover between more intense activities, helping prevent muscle fatigue and enhancing your overall performance.

Examples of Active Rest Activities

There are many active rest activities you can engage in during your rest days. Some options include:

  • Yoga
  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Stretching

These low-impact workouts can help you stay active and give your body a break on rest days, so you feel refreshed and recharged for your next intense workout.

Remember, the key is to choose activities that you enjoy and are gentle on your body. By doing so, you can maximize the benefits of your rest days and maintain a balanced exercise routine that helps you achieve your fitness goals.

Rest Days for Different Types of Exercise

Different types of exercise may require different approaches to rest days. Running, cycling, and bodybuilding all have unique demands on the body, and the number of rest days needed varies depending on these factors. Knowing the optimal number of rest days for each type of exercise can help prevent overtraining, reduce the chance of injury, and support long-term gains.

Whether you’re a runner, cyclist, or bodybuilder, it’s essential to listen to your body and adjust rest days as needed to stay on track and achieve your exercise goals.


When it comes to running, rest days depend on factors like training intensity, goals, and upcoming events. Typically, 2-3 rest days per week are recommended for optimal performance. Beginners should plan to take one day off each week to stay motivated, prevent overuse injuries, and allow for glycogen replenishment.

More experienced runners may be able to have one or two rest days per week for injury prevention and recovery. It’s important to listen to your body and adjust rest days as needed. This not only helps you stay motivated, but also ensures that you’re in the best shape for your next workout or race.


For cyclists, balancing consistent training with adequate recovery is crucial. Typically, this involves taking two days of rest per week. Rest days offer several benefits for cyclists, including allowing the body to recover from the physical exertion of cycling, avoiding overtraining and fatigue, and preventing injuries.

To maximize the benefits of rest days for cyclists, ensure you get enough sleep, eat a nutritious diet, and engage in active rest activities like stretching and yoga. This will keep you energized and ready for your next cycling session.


Bodybuilding is an intense form of exercise that requires more rest days than other types of exercise. Taking at least two days off per week is highly recommended to ensure your muscles get the repair and energy replenishment they need. In addition, it’s a good idea to take a full week of rest every three months to optimize your progress and allow your body to recover fully.

Assigning a day for each muscle group helps you maximize your rest and recovery while ensuring balanced muscle development and growth. Prioritize your rest days and listen to your body to make the most of your bodybuilding journey.

The Importance of Rest for Muscle Growth and Recovery

Rest is crucial for muscle growth and recovery. During rest days, your body undergoes processes that repair and rebuild muscle tissue, allowing you to reach your fitness goals faster. It’s essential to give your body enough rest to prevent overtraining, which can lead to decreased performance and an increased risk of injury.

In addition to muscle repair, rest days also provide an opportunity for energy replenishment. During rest days, glycogen stores are refilled, preventing muscle fatigue and ensuring you have enough energy for your next workout.

Muscle Repair

Muscle repair occurs during rest days, as microscopic tears in muscle tissue are repaired and rebuilt. Cells called fibroblasts work to repair these microscopic tears and help you achieve your fitness goals faster. This process is essential for supporting muscle growth and development, ultimately leading to better athletic performance and increased muscle mass.

By giving your body the rest it needs, you allow it to restore energy levels, repair damaged tissues, and foster muscle growth. This not only helps you reach your fitness goals, but also ensures that you’re ready for your next workout session.

Energy Replenishment

Energy replenishment is another critical aspect of rest days. As you rest, your body refills its glycogen stores, which are used to fuel exercise. This replenishment process helps prevent muscle fatigue and ensures you have enough energy for your next workout.

By incorporating rest days into your exercise routine, you give your body the opportunity to:

  • Recover
  • Replenish its energy stores
  • Enhance overall performance
  • Achieve fitness goals

Rest Days and Weight Loss

Rest days are essential for weight loss, as they allow muscles to rebuild and grow, burn more calories at rest, and help maintain a consistent exercise routine. Achieving a balance between exercise and rest is key to unlocking the gains you’re striving for and keeping your body in top shape, so you can keep pushing forward.

By focusing on increasing the intensity of your workouts and incorporating intense exercise 3-5 sessions per week, you can maximize your weight loss progress and reach your goals.

Balancing Nutrition on Rest Days

On rest days, it’s important to listen to your body’s hunger cues and consume adequate protein to support muscle repair and growth. Eating a balanced diet that includes lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats is a great way to ensure your nutrition is balanced on rest days.

In addition to maintaining a balanced diet, staying hydrated and getting enough sleep are key for maintaining your health and wellbeing on rest days. By focusing on these aspects of your rest days, you can support muscle repair, growth, and overall recovery.

Signs You Need More Rest

Some signs that you may need more rest include persistent muscle soreness, decreased performance, and an increased risk of injury. Regular rest is essential for staying safe during exercise, as it helps your body avoid becoming overworked, which could lead to poor form, dropping a weight, or taking a wrong step.

By paying attention to these signs and adjusting your rest days accordingly, you can prevent overtraining syndrome and ensure a sustainable workout routine that supports your fitness goals.

Tips for Maximizing Rest Day Benefits

To maximize the benefits of rest days, prioritize sleep, engage in active rest activities, and maintain proper nutrition. Getting a good night’s sleep, staying hydrated, and eating a balanced diet can help you feel refreshed and ready for your next workout session.

Incorporating active rest activities, such as yoga, walking, or swimming, can help you stay engaged and active while giving your body the break it needs to recover and rebuild. By following these tips, you can make the most of your rest days and support your overall fitness journey.


In conclusion, rest days are a vital component of any successful fitness routine. By considering factors like fitness level, workout intensity, and individual goals, you can determine the optimal number of rest days for your specific needs. Remember to listen to your body and adjust your rest days as needed, engage in active rest activities, and maintain proper nutrition to support muscle repair, growth, and overall recovery. With the right balance of exercise and rest, you can achieve your fitness goals and enjoy a healthier, more active lifestyle.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many rest days a week should I have?

Take a break and give yourself at least 2-3 days off per week for rest and active recovery. This will help reduce the chance of injury, aid in your recovery and help you reach your goals safely and effectively.

Taking regular breaks is an important part of any fitness routine. It allows your body to rest and recover, and helps to prevent injury. Taking regular breaks also helps keep you motivated and focused.

Is working out 6 days a week too much?

Working out five to six days a week is ideal for best results; mixing strength training and cardio, plus variety, will help you reach your goals.

Incorporating strength training into your routine is important for building muscle and burning fat. Cardio exercises such as running, cycling, and swimming are great for improving cardiovascular health and burning calories. Variety is also key to keeping your workouts interesting.

Is it OK to rest all day once a week?

Taking one rest day per week is a great way to give your body and mind the break they need. You can choose between gentle exercises or a full day of relaxation - whatever suits you best.

Taking a break can help you recharge and refocus, allowing you to come back to your work with a fresh perspective. It can also help to reduce stress and improve your overall wellbeing.

How many rest days is good for muscle growth?

For optimal muscle growth, it’s best to take two to three days off from intense exercise each week. This allows your body to rest and recover, promoting effective muscle repair.

Consider incorporating active recovery into your routine for optimal results.

What activities can I do on active rest days?

Take an active rest day with yoga, swimming, walking and stretching to help your body recover while still staying in motion.

Staying in motion on your rest day can help your body recover faster and prevent injury. It can also help you stay focused and energized throughout the day.

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