No Days Off! - Mind And Muscle

no days off


No Days Off? by Carmen Grange


You hear it all the time now.  It’s all over social media.  That motivational phrase “No days off!” that seems to captivate various samples of the population into thinking that not taking a day off is the best way to achieve goals.  The fact of the matter is, in the fitness industry, that notion is simply not true.  Of course, you want to dedicate every day to bettering yourself and to working toward your goals, but not taking a day off from training is detrimental to your body and your mind, no less.


Exercise is addictive for most of us, right?  Research has proven that exercise releases endorphins in the brain that act as natural painkillers and lead to increases in various cognitive responses including heightened mood, reduced stress, memory improvement, addiction control, and improved self-confidence.  While these changes are certainly benefits related to exercise, it is important to take a break.  Days off are a necessity if you are to achieve the maximum benefits of working out.


Sufficient rest is necessary for 3 main purposes: (a) restore fuel sources, (b) rehydrate, and (c)allow time for the musculature to rebuild its structure.  

  1. Restore fuel sources
    • Our bodies function on a very complex system involving the use and synthesis of energy to make more energy.  While there are various systems (depending on what kind of food consumed and what type of work was performed), all the system’s metabolic processes are run on macronutrient consumption (i.e. carbohydrates, fats, and proteins); therefore, eating is a major component of exercise and muscle recovery to obtain maximal benefit.  Without protein, muscle cannot be synthesized and without either fats or carbs, protein will be burned for energy, so it’s extremely important to maintain sufficient levels of protein, while simultaneously keeping your body plentiful with a mixture of carbs and fats.
  2. Rehydrate
    • The human body is approximately 73% water.  Water lives in our blood, muscles, cells, organs…it’s everywhere!  But when you exercise, your body excretes water in the form of sweat.  Even if you’re not dripping in sweat, you better believe that the heat generated by the vigorous effects of exercise open the pores in your skin to allow moisture to escape to avoid overheating.  Our bodies sweat all day long and must be replenished with water to avoid muscle fatigue, sleepiness, memory loss, and dehydration.  Without water, there is very little that the musculature can accomplish.
  3. Rebuild fascial structure
    • DOMS (as noted in an earlier article) is the effect of muscle fatigue following a workout, because of muscle tearing.  While it sounds gruesome, muscle tearing is what happens before hypertrophy can occur.  Muscle hypertrophy is made possible by the effects of previous workouts, using and tearing any one specific muscle and that muscle subsequently rebuilding its structure.  Without sufficient rest, the fascia is not able to rebuild its structure and that muscle doesn’t properly repair itself.


As a rule of thumb, allow for 1-2 complete off days from exercise to maximize the benefits provided through adequate rest, and never train the same muscle or group of muscles on successive days.