8 Signs You Need a Rest Day

April 25, 2014

I LOVE training. I truly look forward to it every day. Of course, motivation goes down sometimes, as I am only human. BUT it’s honestly very rare for me. I always make sure to take at LEAST one rest day a week, if not more. I make sure to listen to my body, when I need the rest, I rest. I’ve come up with 8 signs you may need a rest day, as these are some things I have experienced, or have seen others experience.


1. Your strength has gone down.

This one I always seem to notice first. It happened to me this morning in the gym, actually. I split my strength training sessions into body parts. Today I was working chest and triceps, and while I usually chest press 30 lb dumbbells, I was struggling with 25’s and had to drop down after a set or two. Strength can go down when you aren’t fueling enough as well, but most of the time it is because you just need a break.

2. You’re exhausted/feel sluggish.

For this one, I mean all. the. time. You have trouble waking up, you’re exhausted all day, you feel like it’s a huge task just to walk from the house to the mailbox, take a rest! Your body obviously is screaming for a break.

3. Your whole body is sore.

This one is a little obvious. But have you ever thought you wanted to go to the gym but realized there is not one part of your body that was NOT sore? Most of the time, I can tell when I wake up. If everything is sore, it’s time for a rest.

4. You’ve hit a plateau. 

This can be about weight loss, muscle gain, strength gains, how fast you’re running, etc. If you feel like you are at a plateau and can progress forward, taking a day or two off may help push things in the right direction. I promise.

5. You’re dreading your workout.

Now, you have to distinguish between just being lazy, and actually dreading it. Sometimes I feel lazy, but when I think about working out I know I’ll feel so much better afterwards. If you’re STILL dreading it, or if you start working out and just can’t get into it, you may just want a break.

6. You’re not sleeping well.

You can’t fall asleep, you can’t stay asleep, you are tossing and turning, you keep waking up, etc. Putting stress on your body tends to disrupt your sleeping patterns.

7. You’re sick or injured. 

Training too much can actually weaken your immune system, or worsen an injury. You can usually make the call if you are too sick or injured to train, but listen to your body. It’s not worth pushing through sometimes.

8. Decreased appetite. 

If your body is run down, it will release certain hormones such as epinephrine and norepinephrine which inhibit appetite. Of course your appetite is always different each day, but you know yourself best and when things just seem off.


How do you know when you need a rest day?

Do you experience anything I’ve listed?


    1. I used to wait and let my body tell me when it needed rest, but after several over-use/repetitive strain injuries, I’ve gotten pro-active with my rest days. I plan them in advance, at the same time I plan my weekly and monthly training.
      And coincidentally, I’ve written a post about the very same topic today!
      Great minds think alike!

    1. Another great post!! I agree with everything – and actually just realized after reading it how bad I need a rest. I’m always amazed how much I lean out by shedding water while resting!!

    1. These are all so true! I take at least 2 rest days a weeks, although it’s been more like 3-4 rest days lately because of my busy internship schedule. 😛 I figure there’s no point in pushing our bodies if they’re not feeling up to it!

      1. That is sooo okay!! Definitely no point in pushing them 😀

    1. I feel like all these symptoms are applicable to actual over-training too. Like, when a rest day isn’t actually quite enough. Do you agree?

      1. Yup! I do agree. Overtraining is very similar, but is usually more intense and can happen if you are undereating.

    1. So true about these tips- Especially number 1- the minute I need to decrease the weights, the alarm bells start ringing.

      Also inconsistent hunger is a big one for me- not being able to be satisfied after a meal or feeling hollow- so annoying!

    1. I’m so happy that you posted about this! I think it’s easy for people to get caught up in seeing exercise posts on social media and feeling like they NEED to workout every single day to keep up. That’s not the case at all! Rest is so crucial to gaining strength and staying healthy, no matter what level of fitness you’re at. I mean, even Olympic athletes take rest days!


    1. Great post! It’s funny how in the final four weeks or so out from a competition, I actually decrease my training frequency to only three, sometimes four, days per week and yet my appetite becomes out of control and I usually end up losing weight. People shouldn’t afraid to take rest days, as that’s when the magic happens!

      1. Yes! The best time to grow and repair 😀

    1. Yep, whole-body soreness is exactly what I’m feeling today. And so there’ll be no gym-time today 🙂 Rest is so critical to bouncing back stronger, yet people so often forget this. In fact, I’ve had multiple convos about this very topic this week, one with a guy who took 3 weeks off and then added 30 pounds to his max bench. I’m not advocating 3 weeks of nothing, but rest did him very well.

      1. Enjoy your rest!! I completely agree 😀

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