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Your rest days are just as important as your training days. Professional athletes take rest days very seriously because it’s when your body heals, gets stronger, builds muscle mass and recovers to train hard the next day. Without a proper rest day schedule, you risk injuring yourself and interrupting your training routine.

Once you’re in the routine of exercising regularly, taking a rest day without guilt can be quite a challenge. Lots of people over train, and exercise addiction is a legitimate issue. OTS is overtraining syndrome, and one study on overtraining summarises it as follows: “symptoms of OTS are multisystem and result from underlying hormonal, immunologic, neurologic, and psychologic disturbances in response to excessive exercise without adequate rest.”

In this case, it’s important to help people understand the benefits that rest days bring. If having more rest days means you’re less likely to pick up an injury, it can really help shift your mindset and help see it as a positive.

However, lots of people are unsure as to how many rest days a week they should actually get. While there is no hard and fast rule, there is a lot of general guidance around rest days and how to optimise your recovery. In this post, we’ll delve into rest days and help you understand how many rest days a week you need.

How many rest days a week for bodybuilders?

It is a common misconception that muscle is built during a training session and the more you train, the more you gain. However, your muscles fibres actually repair and rebuild while you’re resting, so it’s key that you give them time to heal and grow. Growth hormone is released while you’re sleeping, too, so ensuring you get long and restful sleep is integral.

It is generally recommended that bodybuilders get 1-2 days of rest per week, with a whole week of rest every three months. You can split train and focus on different muscle groups each day, so while you’re working on your shoulders, your legs get a rest and can recover adequately. Lots of bodybuilders also pay attention to their post workout nutrition, as it plays an important part when it comes to optimum recovery. Supplements like REGO powders are primed to help you prepare adequately for your next session and contain protein to help your muscles recover and rebuild.

How many rest days for beginners?

If you are new to training regularly, you’ll want to taper your training and get 2-3 days of rest per week. You’ll probably experience DOMs a few times and working out while sore is truly unhelpful and unenjoyable. Once you reach the 6 week mark, you can reassess where you’re at and perhaps decrease the amount of rest days.

How many rest days for runners?

Running regularly can be quite a stress on the joints and muscles, so you’ll want to take 2-3 days of rest per week. You can opt for active rest days instead of doing nothing; swimming, yoga, weight training or simple stretching are all good options.

How many rest days for cycling?

Whether you’re training for an event or generally looking at getting fitter through cycling, you want to train consistently every at least three times a week to see some gains.

On the flip side, you should aim for two days rest a week where you’re not on the bike and you’re letting your legs recover. Opt for a very light workout, a stretching session or a walk instead.

How many rest days between HIIT workouts?

HIIT stands for high intensity interval training. It’s a hugely popular type of workout as it’s a great way to drive weight loss and help lower visceral fat. It’s also great to get those endorphins flowing, which is why people love it so much.

HIIT is seriously tough; you give your all for 30-60 minutes, sweat it out, get your heart racing and blood flowing. It works your whole body and at the end, you often feel truly done for. Because of this intensity, it’s best advised that you get 3-4 days rest from your HIIT training. You can switch out your HIIT session for resistance training or a gentler workout, but you need to make sure you let your body recover adequately in order to avoid injury.

How many rest days before an event?

Whether you’re training for a triathlon, a marathon, or a boxing match, it’s important that you manage your training schedule carefully in the run up to the competition.

Ideally, you want to start tapering down on your training between 10 and 14 days before your event. You should slowly decrease your training load in the run up to the event, with the main aim in these weeks to keep things moving and ticking over nicely. Your training now is about staying fit and healthy – you’ll have done the hard grafting to lift your performance level already.

Your aim is to be training at about 30% of normal three days before your event. This tapering will reduce your chance of injury just before your race (nobody wants that) and also help prepare your body to perform at the highest possible level on the day.


In summary, it is generally recommended that 2-3 rest days a week is optimum. This varies slightly depending on your training age and objectives, but sticking to this advice will help reduce the chance of injury, help you recover adequately and help support long term gains. It will also help ensure you avoid overtraining, which is key for both mental and physical health. If you have been weightlifting for an extended period of time, it’s worth considering a full week of rest, before getting yourself stuck in to your next training period.

Written By

Jessica Redman - Head Coach and Founder of Work That, Trustee at CIMSPA

Jessica founded an online personal training platform called ‘Work That’ and was previously Co-founder of ‘GRL GYM’. She is currently on the CIMSPA board where she is aiming to help drive forward knowledge about the benefits exercise has on mental health. Jess believes in using exercise to help people feel good, relive pain and enjoy an active lifestyle.