Okay, so we’ve got the memo that resting between workouts is good for us – even important, right? But how long do we need to rest between workouts?
It depends. After working a muscle group, give yourself 48 hours before you work that muscle group again. Beginners may also need more rest days than experienced exercisers. Let’s dive into the specifics.
How long should I rest between workouts if I’m a beginner?
If you’re new to exercising, give your muscles 48-72 hours between workouts to recover and repair.
You’re more likely to experience DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) if you’re new to exercise. DOMS can last for up to 48 hours, so a few days’ rest between sessions gives you plenty of time to recoup.
Your body is still adapting to exercise, so go at your own pace. Introduce exercise gradually, bumping up the intensity as you advance.
Read This Next:
How long should I rest between workouts after lifting weights?
If lifting at a challenging intensity, allow 24-48 hours between workouts for muscle repair.
Muscle mass is built in those rest periods.
When you exercise, the strain of the movement causes tiny tears in your muscle belly. As the tissues repair, they grow back thicker and stronger, leading to muscle growth.
Your body needs those rest days to do its job and build that lean muscle. If you’ve just exercised a muscle group, it’s important to give it time to repair before straining it again.
You can always work a different muscle group the next day if you want to stay active e.g. train arms Monday, train legs Tuesday. Or, you can do light to moderate cardio/stretching on alternating days.
It seems counterintuitive because more feels like more when it comes to workouts. However, if you want real results, you have to prioritize proper rest as much as you do a good lifting session.
How long should I rest between cardio workouts?
This depends on the intensity. If you went for a light to moderately paced walk, you can go again tomorrow after a good night’s sleep. But if you did high intensity exercise, like a good run or HIIT workout, give it 48 hours between workouts, particularly if you feel sore afterward.
Your heart muscle works in a similar way to your other muscles. When you strain it with exercise, it grows stronger to meet your body’s demands.
Unlike your other muscles, your heart doesn’t need too long at all to recover between workouts, especially from light to moderate activity.
BUUUT things like Soul Cycle class, running, or intense HIIT put a LOT of strain on other areas of your body too, like your joints, tendons, and muscles. These WILL need time to recover and repair, just like with any other workout.
Give yourself 48 hours between high-intensity cardio sessions so your body can repair properly. This also means not booking a killer lower body session the day after your Soul Cycle class.
Your legs will likely be on fire from the day before and need that rest day. Switch it to an upper-body session instead.
How long should I rest between yoga workouts?
Yoga is usually a light activity, so you don’t need a rest day between every workout. But you do still need to take a regular break from it, at least once a week.
Whilst it’s likely that you won’t damage or injure your body from doing yoga every day, your mind needs a break too.
A rest day by swapping yoga for another activity gives your brain a reset and helps you get refocused for another week.
Cross-training in other activities improves fitness in other ways, like increasing cardio endurance, strength, and agility, which can then make your yoga practice even better.
How many rest days do I need per week?
Even experienced exercisers need at least one rest day a week. This gives your body and mind space to recover.
If you’re just beginning with exercise, three training sessions a week is more than enough to start with. This gives you one or two days in between to let your muscles recover before training them again.
If you’re a moderately experienced exerciser, you can bump up your training sessions to four or five a week, with between 2-3 rest days a week.
What should I do on my rest days between workouts?
A recovery day from training doesn’t mean lying on the couch! In fact, keeping your sore muscles immobilized is one of the worst things you can do for recovery.
A bit of light activity and mobilization will actually help with muscle recovery. It’s also great for your overall health to be physically active on most, if not all, days of the week.
I like to think of rest days as “active recovery” days. Although I’m not training, I do enjoyable physical activity – which usually one gets me in the great outdoors spending time with family.
Some of my favorite things to do on active recovery days are:-
Going for a swim at the beach
Going for a long walk on the beach with my husband and my dog
Practicing riding my motorbike
Doing yoga or deep stretching
Putting on my favorite records and dancing around my living room.
You might also like to try:
Throwing the Frisbee for your dog
Playing a game of sport in the park with your family
Going for a nature walk or hike
Playing an active board game, like Twister
Getting stuck into the gardening or housework
(P.S. For more great active recovery ideas, check out 30 Free and Easy Ways to Exercise Without Working Out.)
Read These Next:
Though it feels like we should be exercising every day to get results, remember: muscles might be born in the gym, but they’re grown with rest. If you exercise a particular muscle group, it’s important to give it a day or two of rest before hitting it again in the gym.
Listen to your body, and take that rest day if you need it! Just one or two days of active recovery will make all the difference to your training – and your results.
Now I would love to hear from you! How often do you like to wait between workouts? Share your experience with us in the comments below!