SFH #94: Knowing When to Shut It Down

4 signs we need a rest day 🛋

I am dragging big time today. See here for my biometric evidence from Whoop.

The importance of recovery is a topic I keep revisiting because I'm still a student. Not everyone will relate to the insight of seeing these statistics, though having this information is no guarantee that we are heeding the science in front of our eyes. We can always find a way to push the limits of our boundaries. So today, I want to share some crucial signs we may need a rest day.

  1. We are either sick, injured, or pushing the edge of one or the other. You might be surprised how many of us go through a workout or even a workday when rundown. It can be okay if we are highly attuned to our needs and our limits, but most likely we are just exacerbating the issue and going further down the other side of the bell curve. Our body needs proper rest to operate at top immunity fighting strength.1

  2. Our body is not responding (and we feel physical fatigue). This one can sneak up on you. Fatigue can be subtle, or it can hit us like a ton of bricks.2 If it's the former, we need to be on the lookout for signs showing up in #3 and #4. We tend to associate physical strain, struggle, and pain with growth in the world of exercise. It's also a sign we need to rest. We can also muddy the waters between fatigue and laziness. If you are wondering which you experience, try this: Drive to the gym, fitness studio, get dressed for that run, and start with deliberately slow movement. If your body does not feel the pull of inertia and you're still exhausted and dreading the workout, don't do it. On the flip side, if you're feeling mentally-not physically tired, you'll be able to rally and follow through. Once you've broken through, your energy will likely rise.

  3. Our mood is declining. With depletion in our physical systems comes a cascade of mental and emotional states. As energy declines, it affects us across the board. Rest and sleep is the easiest way to restore the normal functioning of our holistic, healthy state.3

  4. Results are sliding. We can plateau in our efforts in different ways, and that can be a sign that we need a new stimulus-response or a reset. A sure-fire sign that a rest day or days are in order is that our baseline results are down. It can be a string of a few bad days, or it can be within the context of an individual workout. I would tell an athlete to shut things down if they continued to have a drastic decline in performance throughout the workout. Eustress through fitness should stretch our limits, not cause a crash landing at the end.

Here's the hunky Thomas DeLauer on the deeper effects of overtraining. 📺