327/308 Wattle St, Ultimo, New South Wales 2007

Are rest days lazy? The truth about taking time off.

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Are rest days lazy? The truth about taking time off.

We’re one of those unconventional studios where members are encouraged to listen to their bodies and respect the power of rest.

Ergo… take a day off, you maniac!

That being said, we know it can be tough to actually take a rest day… and not fall in a heap.

Take a rest day? You’re kidding, right?

Resting can be seen as weak, lazy or like you’re ‘not achieving anything’.

Especially when you’re in the swing of training and finally seeing results, it can be mentally challenging to skip the gym and chill.

But the thing is, strategic rest is just as important as training. In fact, when your body is at rest and in a parasympathetic state, it heals, improves and grows stronger. 

What doesn’t kill you...

Working out is a destructive process that causes micro-damage to tissues (when you’re hitting the right intensity and volume, that is). Thanks to this stressful stimulus, the body repairs and grows stronger.

But if you don’t rest, your body can’t catch up. Training becomes a negative stressor, causing inflammation, fatigue and chronic injuries. As well as that, long-term overtraining can mess with hormones, sleep patterns, immune function and more. 

Rest is the missing piece of the puzzle when it comes to getting results from your training.

Finding the sweet spot

So… how do you incorporate the right amount of rest?

Like most things in life, it’s highly personal. 

How much rest you need depends on your current state of health, fitness, stress and nutrition. If you’ve been working out for years, you’ll probably have a higher tolerance to training and handle more load. If you’ve just started, you might feel sore after each session and opt for more recovery days.

A good rule of thumb is:

0 - 6 months experience: 3 - 4 rest days per week

6 - 12 months experience: 2 - 3 rest days per week

12 or more months experience: 1 - 3 rest days per week

Training strategically

At Enliven, we do a number of things to help you balance rest and training, avoiding injury and seeing results. 

We consciously program our workouts so that even if you come along every day, you’ll work different muscle groups, at different intensities, to develop different skills. 

This is one way we prevent injury, overtraining, and boredom.

Within our workouts, we tailor the moves to suit individual levels of fitness, making sure posture, form and technique are correct and never pushing you beyond your limits. 

Despite all that, there are times you simply need to rest - whether you’re feeling weak, unwell or just not-that-into it. 

You know it’s time to rest when...

Your body is always working in your best interest, so treat it kindly and heed its wisdom. 

If you’re experiencing:

  • Fatigue at just the thought of working out
  • Excessive soreness or pain, making it hard to reach your full range of motion
  • A niggle, a nag, or a twinge that just won’t go away
  • Weakness and a sense that you’re just not performing at your best
  • Dread at the thought of exercise

… it might be time to take some time off or focus on rehab.

Avoid this trap

So, now you how beneficial rest is as part of an effective training program, here’s the #1 trap to avoid: 


This is something we see all the time, and it’s the product of a faulty mindset. 

If you believe that resting is a failure or something to feel guilty about, you may find yourself self-sabotaging.

It goes like this: the minute you take a rest day, your inner monologue starts yelling ‘You’re so LAZY! You’re going BACKWARDS! You’re a FAILURE! So… better throw the rules out the window and make the most of it.’ 

Cue an epic cheat day.

But if you enter rest days with the cool, calm knowledge that it’s all part of the plan, you’ll be far less likely to fall spectacularly in a heap.

Active recovery FTW

The last thing we want to mention is that rest days don’t necessarily equal 12 hours on the couch. In fact, you might want to call them ‘active recovery’ days. 

You’re the best judge of what your body needs, but engaging in any of the following can help boost circulation, speed up healing, increase mobility and allow nutrients to move into joints, cartilage and tissue - without engaging in a full-on workout. 

  • A brisk walk in nature
  • Foam rolling or release work
  • Dynamic stretching or yoga
  • A beach swim
  • A bike ride
  • Tai Chi or Qi Gong

So, how are you feeling about rest days now? See them in a new light… or still feeling the struggle to schedule them in? Tell us in the comments.

If you’d like to learn more about the Enliven approach, we’re only a phone call away. Better yet, you can book a complimentary health and fitness strategy session with Michael with one click.

Head here to check his availability and do something great for your health, today.

To your health,

Michael Wilson


Senior Exercise Practitioner

Holistic Health & Nutritional Coach

Manual Therapist

Functional Movement Specialist

Rehab Trainer

Posture Trainer

Personal Trainer

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