Fitness Friday – Give Your Workout a Break

Why REST should be an important part of your workout plan.

GiveYourWorkoutaBreak!When we think about transforming our bodies into a beautiful, sculpted work of art, we tend to focus on two things: workout and meal planning.  And while both of these are indeed important and necessary, we  often forget one of the most important ingredients: REST!

Yet REST is crucial for optimum results and should be treated with equal care and respect.

When I think of rest in relationship to my workouts I think of it in three ways:

  1. REST in between sets
  2. Taking a REST Day from my workout routine
  3. RESTful sleep at night.

Let’s take a closer look at each one of these to better understand the critical role each one plays in your overall transformation.

REST in between sets

If you’ve been enjoying the workouts I’ve posted in previous Fitness Friday posts, you’ll know that rest is an integral part of BURST, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and Tabata workouts.  The idea behind these types of workouts is that you engage in one activity at the highest intensity you can for a specific period of time — usually anywhere from 20 seconds to 1 minute, then rest for a set period of time before either repeating the activity or moving on to the next one.  In the same way, if you are working through a circuit or with free weights, you’ll do a set, then take a break and rest before starting the next set or moving on to the next station on your circuit.

These consistent breaks in your workout allow you to workout at a higher intensity and for longer sets than if you did not take those breaks.


One of the most important reasons for building rest days into your workout routine is to avoid over training — working your muscles to a point of diminishing return.  “The body repairs and strengthens itself in the time between workouts, and continuous training can actually weaken the strongest athletes.” (  Sometimes we are so determined to see results fast that we feel we must train intensely and daily because, God forbid we might take a break and all the hard work we’ve put in suddenly goes out the window.  There is also the fear that if we take one day off it will be a lot harder to get back to our exercise and before too long we’ll be resting most of the week and exercising sporadically.  That mindset is hurtful in more ways than one. For one, overtraining robs us of the ability to fully replenish our energy stores, and simultaneously interferes with our cell and tissue damage repair. And while the physical strain is easy to understand, overtraining may also result in psychological stress..  Most moms I know struggle to make the time each day for exercise but guilt over taking a day off is equally harmful.  I typically work out 5 days a week.  I walk for 20 minutes every day… my little dog won’t have any other way but when it comes to my structured and intense workout, I train Monday, Tuesday, REST on Wednesday, then back at it Thursday, Friday and Saturday and take another day off on Sunday.

RESTful Sleep

I always tell my clients that when they exercise they are putting in a request for transformation but that the actual transformation happens at night, when they are sleeping peacefully. Think of it this way, when you go off into the land of dreams, an army of tiny little beings gets busy repairing all your damaged cells, strengthening muscles, keeping tendons and ligaments nice a supple and getting rid of all the toxic waste that is the result of muscle break down. Remember when you exercise you are in fact causing tiny little tears in all the muscles you are working. During the night, when repair takes place, your muscles  become stronger. If you shortchange your sleep you are preventing the repair work to be completed.   You wouldn’t think about building a house on a cracked and unstable foundation so why train on too little sleep?  When muscles don’t have a chance to be repaired they become weaker instead of stronger and that is when serious injury becomes a real danger.

Do you have a REST plan for your workout?  Which aspect of REST is the hardest for you?


  1. Sleep is so critical to our overall health. It’s one of the bigger areas needing improvement in my ongoing wellness plans.

    • I wish all the best with that Crystal. It’s the biggest struggle for women in general, but especially moms. I’ve struggled with sleep for years. What has made a huge difference for me is going to bed early. I’ve always been a night owl but since switching to an early bedtime I get longer stretches of consecutive sleep and wake up refreshed and much more productive.

  2. My biggest problem since childhood is insomnia. I have tried everything, exercise, sleep center, meditation, acupuncture, Chinese herbals. I know the importance of sleep and it is frustrating but I am not giving up.

    • I feel your pain Arleen and I applaud you for your persistence… You will get there somehow, I’m confident. I’ve struggle with insomnia as long as I can remember as well but since switching my hours I do much better… I go through phases now where I wake up for no apparent reason around 3 in the morning, but for the most part I get 6 -7 hours a night. When I come up short for whatever reason I sneak in a power nap during the day 🙂 Curious — do you find you sleep better when you are on vacation?

  3. These are great reminders. I know I need to get more rest but it’s really hard for me since there is always something I could be doing. I’m going to take this to heart though and add rest into my routine.

    • HahaI hear you Jeanette… that’s how our mommy brain works. But if you can push all that out and commit to your rest you’ll find that you’ll actually get through all that other stuff a lot more efficiently 🙂

  4. Rest is such an important part of a good fitness and health and even lifestyle routine. So many people quickly forget!

  5. Absolutely! Rest is so important for every aspect of our health! I probably love rest days too much! 😉

  6. I find at times I have to just take a day to rest in order to get through the week. Then I feel great afterwards! Rest does do our body good.

    • Amen Karen! Rest does your body good indeed, yet somehow it is one of the hardest things for most of us moms to indulge in… Perhaps we need to stop thinking of it as an indulgence and embrace it as a necessity 🙂

  7. I’ve lost 41 pounds with calorie counting and exercise. Taking rest days is no easy task, but seriously important.

  8. Stephanie Keeping says:

    This is so true and often forgotten.

    • It’s easy to forget Stephani I think especially when we start out with a new plan.We are so focuses on what we are trying to accomplish that we forget those “off” times are equally important.

  9. I’ve never really been very good about taking a day off when I work out. I need to get better about that because you’re right. It’s important!

  10. You are so right! Rest sometimes is key!

  11. I struggle mightily with getting enough sleep. That’s the hardest thing ever for me!

  12. Rest really is so important! When spring comes and I get my fitness kick on high I always forget to rest. I actually see my best results when I allow rest days in my plans!

  13. So since I began Whole30 back in July – I have slept SO much better. I used to get up several times during the night – I actually sleep so soundly and all the way through the night – its amazing how much better I feel lol

    • Yay Lynsey! That is such a great reminder that what we eat has a huge impact on every aspect of our health, including our ability to fall asleep and the quality of our sleep. I am so happy for you!

  14. As important as sleep is I always fail at getting adequate amount for myself. I can’t remember the last time I have slept more than 5 hours in a row.

    • I feel your pain Chelle as I was right there with you for many years. What has made a huge difference for me is changing my bed time. I’ve always been a night owl and would stay up late to finish my work once everyone was asleep and I had no distractions. But that was taking a HUGE toll on my health and I was getting quite ill… Now I try to go to sleep when I put my 7 year old to bed, or by 10pm at the latest. Even if I wake up at 4 am I feel much more rested than I ever did before. One of the problems is that we moms are amazingly resilient, and we manage to “get by” with much less sleep than we should. But take it from me, it catches up to you, so please take good care of yourself and try to get a good 7 hours a night 🙂

  15. I am so bad at starting off slow. My first time back to exercising was a major fail. I did too much too fast, and too heavy. I couldn’t lift either of my arms for days… Not just sore muscles, as in, I tore something in each arm.. I now take it slow and ease into it!

    • I feel your pain Michelle! Overtraining when you first get started is the fastest way to give up on your resolve to workout. Yes, rest is key to your success but you also want to make sure that if you are going to train hard, you drink plenty of water AND eat or drink a protein rich recovery meal or drink within 20 minutes to 1 hour of your workout. I always indulge in a delicious protein shake after my workouts. Protein is essential for replenishing your energy stores that end up depleted after an intense workout session.

  16. It is definitely important to let your body rest. You’ll see more positive in the long run if you don’t kill yourself working out every day of the week!

  17. I wish I had the desire to workout and I know how critical rest is for the body. Thanks for sharing all your workouts and great tips.

    • You are most welcome Terry. Do you have a friend who could motivate you to workout? Or maybe the secret for you is to not think of it as a WORK-out but simply as a fun and fit activity… Getting your body moving is more important than engaging in a specific activity… Do you enjoy walking? Is there a good friend you love chatting with that could join you on a daily stroll? Getting started is more often than not the hardest part, but once you get into the habit, it usually becomes something you look forward to 🙂

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.