Summary: Many people wonder whether they should do cardio on their rest days. Some believe that this may aid muscle recovery, while others worry that it may impair recovery. Here are a few things to consider before deciding to do cardio on rest days.
1. The Importance of Rest Days
Rest days are essential for muscle recovery and growth. When you work out, you damage your muscles’ fibers, creating tiny tears that the body repairs during rest periods. This repair process is what makes your muscles bigger, stronger, and more defined. Skipping rest days or overtraining can actually inhibit your progress, ultimately slowing down your results.
Therefore, if you choose to do cardio on rest days, be sure not to overdo it. Performing excessive cardio can cause your body to stay in a catabolic state, which means it’s breaking down muscle tissue for energy instead of building it.
You can do low to moderate-intensity cardio on rest days if desired, but it’s important not to push yourself too hard and to listen to your body.
2. Benefits of Cardio on Rest Days
There are still some possible benefits to doing cardio on rest days, as long as you don’t overdo it. For instance, endurance training can help support cardiovascular health and improve recovery time by increasing blood flow in the body.
If you’re looking to lose weight, cardiovascular exercise may help stimulate metabolism and burn more calories, potentially aiding weight loss goals.
Additionally, low-intensity cardio on a rest day may help you feel more active overall and can provide mental health benefits, such as alleviating stress and improving mood.
3. Downfalls of Cardio on Rest Days
While there may be some potential benefits, doing cardio on rest days may also have some negative effects on muscle recovery. As your body repairs muscles, it needs nutrients and resources to aid in the process. If you engage in cardio on a rest day, you may divert some of these resources to provide energy for the additional activity, potentially slowing down the repair process.
Another concern with doing excessive cardio on rest days is that it can cause you to deplete glycogen stores, which are needed for energy during weight training. This could potentially lead to decreased muscle strength and performance during your next workout.
In severe instances, engaging in too much cardiovascular activity on rest days could even lead to overtraining syndrome, which occurs when the body is pushed beyond its limits without proper rest and recovery periods. Symptoms of overtraining include decreased strength and endurance, persistent soreness, injuries, and loss of motivation.
4. When to do Cardio on Rest Days
If you choose to engage in cardio on rest days, it’s important to be strategic about when you schedule it. For instance, consider doing cardio on a rest day after a particularly intense weight training session when your muscle fibers need extra recovery time.
You may also want to reconsider doing cardio on a rest day if you’ve recently begun a new weight training regimen or have a particularly strenuous week ahead of you, as your body may require additional rest to successfully adapt to the new training program.
Conversely, if you’ve been consistently training with no issues, have slept well and eaten properly, and feel mentally and physically ready, then you may choose to perform light cardio on a rest day.
5. Variety in Exercise
Ultimately, adding exercise to any routine ultimately depends on personal preference and goals. Consider alternating between different types of exercise to keep your body continuously challenged and avoid stagnation.
Additionally, mix up the type of cardio you do if you choose to engage in it on rest days to avoid overuse injuries and muscle imbalances. Switch between high-intensity intervals, steady-state cardio, and low-impact options like swimming or yoga.
By introducing variety into your routine and allowing for proper rest periods, you can maximize your potential while minimizing your risk of injury or burnout.
Ultimately, there are pros and cons to doing cardio on rest days, so it ultimately depends on individual goals, preferences, and current training program. If you choose to perform cardiovascular activity on rest days, be sure not to overdo it, listen to your body, and be strategic about when you schedule it. Mix up your routine, prioritize rest periods, and stay adaptable to avoid stagnation.