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How many days should I rest from working out?

Figuring out the optimal rest days between workouts is important for allowing your body to recover and rebuild stronger muscles. The number of rest days needed varies based on your workout routine, fitness goals, and individual factors like age, experience level, and injuries. Here are some guidelines on how many rest days you may need:

1-2 rest days for most moderate exercise routines

For most gym-goers doing moderate exercise like strength training, HIIT workouts, or cardio sessions about 3-5 days per week, having 1-2 rest days in between workout days is recommended. This allows your muscles to fully recover before the next training session. Some example moderate workout schedules with ideal rest days:

  • Work out Monday, Wednesday, Friday – take off Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday
  • Work out Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday – take off Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday

Having a day of active recovery like yoga, stretching, or light cardio can also help rejuvenate the body on some rest days.

3-4 rest days for intense exercise routines

For vigorous exercise routines like heavy strength training 4-6 days per week, high intensity interval training, or marathon/competition training, 3-4 rest days per week may be better for full recovery. This allows time for muscle protein synthesis and more complete muscular repair between sessions.

Some examples of workout schedules with 3-4 rest days:

  • Work out Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday – take off Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday
  • Work out Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday – take off Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday

Listen to your body and add in extra rest days as needed when feeling fatigued or sore.

1 rest day for light exercise routines

For very light exercise routines, like walking, gentle yoga, or leisure sports done for 30-45 mins up to 6 days per week, only 1 dedicated rest day may be sufficient. However, it’s still important to avoid exercise 7 days a week continuously.

An example light exercise schedule:

  • Walk or do yoga Monday-Saturday – take off Sunday

Beginners may need 2+ rest days

If you’re new to exercise, giving your body ample recovery time is crucial. As a general rule, 2-3 rest days per week is recommended when starting an exercise program. This prevents injury or excessive soreness from overdoing it initially.

Older adults may need 2+ rest days

Masters athletes and older adults may require more rest days during the week than younger exercisers. With age, the body’s ability to recover declines. Allowing 2+ rest days and avoiding exercise 7 consecutive days caters training to the slower muscular repair process.

Injured people need extra rest days

When recovering from an injury or during rehabilitation, additional rest days from exercise are very beneficial. Resting the affected joint or muscle for 2+ days following activities aids the healing process. Consult a physiotherapist on ideal recovery time based on your injury.

How to determine your ideal rest days

There are a few general guidelines on workout rest days, but individual factors also matter. Gauge how your body is responding and adjust rest days as needed based on:

  • Muscle soreness – If very sore for multiple days after working out, add more rest.
  • Fatigue – If chronically tired and lacking energy, body may need more recovery time.
  • Injury – Rest days are crucial when injured to prevent re-aggravation.
  • Sleep quality – Poor sleep inhibits muscle recovery, signalling the need for more rest.
  • Goals – Frequent intense training requires more rest than casual recreational fitness.

Benefits of Rest Days

Taking regular rest days yields many benefits:

  • Allows muscular repair and growth of new muscle tissue.
  • Gives the body and mind a break from training stress.
  • Reduces risk of overtraining, burnout, and chronic fatigue.
  • Decreases chance of injury or joint overuse.
  • Improves performance by preventing muscular fatigue.

Make sure to complement workouts with enough rest days. It’s during the recovery period that your fitness improves.


Most people training moderately 3-5 days per week only need about 1-2 dedicated rest days for sufficient recovery. More intense routines or individual factors like age, injuries, or fatigue may require 2-4 rest days weekly. Listen to your body and adjust as needed. Rest days are vital to get the full benefits of exercise, prevent overtraining, and lower injury risk.