Move It Monday: Rest Weeks

by tinareale on July 30, 2012

So, how is everyone doing this morning? Did you have a good weekend? I’ll tell ya that I sure did! I kicked it off with a great feeling workout. Then I spent the day doing a bit of shopping, followed up with some baking, before heading out for a cookout dinner with friends. Things turned a little bittersweet on Sunday, but more about that another day this week. It was still a great time surrounded by good friends and just enjoying life. Hope yours felt the same.

Now that it is Monday again, we have to kick off another round of Move It Monday with a recap of my personal workouts and a new workout for you to try.


Remember a few weeks ago when I mentioned feeling a bit burned out with exercise? Well, that feeling kept catching up to me, so I opted for something I feel like I haven’t done in awhile. A true recovery week.

I have a hard time taking a full week off any type of movement, because exercise truly is my therapy, but could tell my body wanted a bit of a break. So, I did just that. For the first part of the week I just stuck to some long walks on the treadmill – namely for the book reading time. Then, later in the week I could feel that old itch sparking up again.

I knew I wanted to  keep things light for the full week, but I was ready for a change so I hit up a basic upper body weights workout at a lower intensity on Friday and then spin class at a low-key level on Saturday. It was just what my body needed.

For the longest time, I would look at a week like that and feel like I had wasted my time or lost my current fitness level. Nowadays, though? I look at that and see smart training. I see listening to my body – giving it what it needs, so that I can ultimately improve upon my current fitness level.

After feeling run down, I now feel ready and raring to go. I even plan to tackle a run today for the first time in at least a few weeks. You all know I believe in challenging yourself physically and “making it nasty” from time time. On the flip side, I also see many upsides to rest and recovery weeks. Off weeks of training should be a regular part of any dedicated athlete’s or fitness buff’s training schedule.


  • In addition to a regular rest day in training, consider incorporating a full week either off or at a lower intensity every 12-16 weeks.  When in more intense training, you may even wish to take a lighter training load even more frequently.
  • Take the time you would spend training getting extra sleep, trying out a different activity, or enjoying a favorite hobby.
  • Rest and recovery weeks allow your body more time to repair fatigued body structures, reduce stress, increase glycogen stores, and avoid overtraining and injuries.
  • For those who simply can’t imagine avoiding the gym, do some light cross training which will allow rest to areas currently under stress while also improving possible weaknesses. Do some planks instead of hitting the road for a run. Go on a long walk instead of hitting the weights hard.
  • Take the time off to set new goals and have a specific time frame to see how you improve in your training cycles from one rest period to the next.
  • Stay logical. If you keep your nutrition balanced, you won’t gain a ton of weight for a week off. You won’t lose your progress in that short of a time frame, either.
  • Don’t be surprised to find greater energy and increased motivation for training thanks to a mental break from regular training rigors. Your workouts will feel exciting and new again!

Your Turn – Do you ever take full weeks off from regular intense training? What would be your favorite “rest week” activity?

original photo source via 123 Royalty Free


1 chelsey @ clean eating chelsey July 30, 2012 at 8:14 am

I totally believe in rest weeks! I think that if I would have given myself rest weeks regularly, I could have avoided a LOT of problems!!!!

2 Courtney @ Sweet Tooth, Sweet Life July 30, 2012 at 8:51 am

AGREED, Chels! Now, instead, I’m incorporating rest months…

3 Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean July 30, 2012 at 8:18 am

i’ve having a bit of a rest couple of days. trying to nip injury early and give my body time to heal. i get antsy but i know it’s for the best! thanks for the reinforcement!

4 Krysten Siba Bishop (@darwinianfail) July 30, 2012 at 8:24 am

GREAT POST! So important to listen to your body and give it a chance to rest too! All about the balance!

5 Mellissa July 30, 2012 at 8:38 am

I take one every 12 weeks, my body needs it! I go back looking forward to workouts and am back up to my hard core intensity.

6 Alex @ therunwithin July 30, 2012 at 8:57 am

I am all for rest weeks. I try and get a light week every 2 or 3 months that has less miles and overall more cross training. Keeps me motivated and body happy

7 Maryea @ Happy Healthy Mama July 30, 2012 at 8:59 am

Very smart! I’m glad to see you are able to give your body the rest it needs. :-)

8 Ashley @ My Food 'N' Fitness Diaries July 30, 2012 at 9:04 am

Good for you Tina! I used to never think this way, which is really unfortunate. I wish I added more rest weeks in my fitness routine, but now I know for the future. You’re a great example lady!

9 Kelly July 30, 2012 at 9:39 am

Oh yeah….I have to take breaks. I can’t go balls to the wall all the time every time. I usually only workout 4 days during the week and I usually take Tuesday, Thursday and Sundays off. Having those mini breaks during the week helps me avoid the burnout.

10 Kristy @ Kristy's Health Revolution July 30, 2012 at 9:53 am

This is an interesting post! Thanks!

For me, I think rest weeks come naturally. I’ll hit it hard for a few weeks, and then I’ll take it easy one week. I let my body tell me when I need a rest, and maybe I’ll just take a few easy runs that week or something.

11 tinareale July 31, 2012 at 7:42 am

That’s so great that you’re in tune with your body that way that they just come naturally. :)

12 Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table July 30, 2012 at 10:02 am

I’m a terrible rest-er… but I do take time when I’m on vacation! :)

13 Laura @ Mommy Run Fast July 30, 2012 at 10:13 am

So true. I am in the middle of a cut back two-weeks of running, and in the past it would have drove me crazy, but now I am able to embrace it and know that I’ll be back at it before I know it, and stronger than before. Great post!

14 Brittany (Healthy Slice of Life) July 30, 2012 at 10:19 am

I totally believe it taking it easy some weeks. I find that it motivates me to really hit the ground running (bad pun intended!) when I get back at it. …unless I “rest” for too long and find myself struggling to get back into it!

15 jobo July 30, 2012 at 10:21 am

This is such a great idea and I know when my body is long overdue for these, or an active recovery week, that it just screams for me to stop. It’s usually around a vacation or a trip to Maine that I take it back a few notches and take walks, rest, and stretch. I have never taken a week off though at home and done this, usually away when it’s just a good reason to take a step back and reset. Perhaps I should sometime when my body tells me to! Sounds like it was perfectly what you needed. Smart training!

16 Cat @sugaraddictanonymous July 30, 2012 at 11:07 am

Thanks so much for the tips. I find resoration/recovery yoga to the best thing for me on days off. It helps me work the kink out of my muscles and get them ready to perform optimally again. Foam Rolling has been a lifesaver too, but right after a workout instead of on off days. Hope you enjoyed your light week!

17 Lisa July 30, 2012 at 11:50 am

I definitely agree in rest weeks! I’m actually taking a rest month or few months, how ever long it takes to get my body back to its optimal health.
It was something I avoided for so long because I didn’t want to give up the comfort that exercise left me, but now I realize its not always the healthy choice to choose exercise all the time.
Rest is so important for our bodies to repair, recuperate, and rejuvenate.

18 tinareale July 31, 2012 at 11:25 am

Love that. “It’s not always the healthy choice to exercise”. That is so true. I hate that you’re having to experience that though.

19 Heather @ Better With Veggies July 30, 2012 at 11:50 am

YES! I love rest weeks – I take one after big races and actually plan one into Ironman training, so that I don’t get burned out and am able to really focus & push. I also plan a “rest month” every year, which isn’t a month completely off, but is pretty close. No structured training, just fun activities to keep moving.

20 Heather (Heather's Dish) July 30, 2012 at 11:54 am

it’s so true, we really do need rest weeks! i like to walk and do stretching or yoga – it really helps reset everything and puts the other workouts in perspective!

21 Sarah @ Blonde Bostonian July 30, 2012 at 12:19 pm

I’m a big fan of rest weeks. Whenever I finish a race, I always take a couple weeks to focus on rest and enjoying other workouts like spinning. I find that it gets me focused for the beginning of a new training plan and also stops any feelings of burn out.

22 Amanda Perry @ Sistas of Strength July 30, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Great post Tina! I am actually taking a light week this week. I need to do it more often as well (as do most trainers and fitness enthusiasts/addicts). I usually write myself programs and lift heavy about 3 days a week. I have been feeling pretty burnt out lately as well and having more “eh” workouts than great ones. This week I’m just going to have fun and take it easy during my workouts. Lots of bodyweight exercises and walking with the baby! :)

23 Jess July 30, 2012 at 12:25 pm

This is SUPER smart training my friend. And not gonna lie — I’m kind of wicked jealous of the recovery week, ha! Although this week is a drop-back week in training for me and dammmmn am I embracing the shorter ‘long run’ this week like whoa! AND looking forward to a giant recovery week(s) after the marathon. It’ll be glorious, I’m sure of it!

24 [email protected] July 30, 2012 at 12:36 pm

I don’t think I’ve ever truly done a whole week of rest. But, I do take 1-2 days each week off. And when I’m feeling burned out, I just go for walks and try to regain my mojo. Works every time.

25 Danica @ It's Progression July 30, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Rest days are always so hard for me. Even when my body is telling me it needs a break, my mind has such a hard time accepting that! Thanks for the reminder that it’s important to take it easy now and then : )

26 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats July 30, 2012 at 1:18 pm

Walking is my favorite rest day activity!!! I love to walk!

27 Kerry @ Half Healthy, Half Nuts July 30, 2012 at 2:08 pm

My favorite rest day activity is walking for sure! It’s still cardio and yet, it’s nice and easy and at your own pace. And you’re right, it allows you plenty of reading time on the treadmill!

28 lindsay July 30, 2012 at 2:30 pm

yes yes yes! i totally believe in rest MONTHS! like yoga/hiking/extra rest. It does our body good, well said.

We missed you this weekend!

29 Elle July 30, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Rest weeks are important… I go biking or walking or sailing!

30 Kierston July 30, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Rest is so important! I always have rest days included into my schedule! :)

31 Calee (@chimes) July 30, 2012 at 4:46 pm

Thank you so much for posting this! I took 4 days off last week. And I was really feeling guilty, but my body was saying “NOOOOoooooooooo!” Saturday was probably the worst. I usually do a 90 minute TRX bootcamp on Saturdays at 9 AM, and I LOVE it, but I woke up and everything hurt and I was so fatigued — and I barely did anything on Friday — I ran 4 miles SLOW. So I decided to call it a day, crawl back in bed, and sleep. I ended up sleeping for 4 hours and I felt SO much better afterwards, though I am sad I missed my favorite class of the week.

Thanks again for posting this!

32 tinareale July 31, 2012 at 11:27 am

But that class will be there again this week. ;) Glad you took it easy and hopefully feeling better now.

33 Angie @ Losing It and Loving It July 30, 2012 at 4:48 pm

Yes I have taken rest weeks. My favorite thing to do on rest weeks is walk. I would for hubby and I to get some bikes so we could incorporate that into our life.

When we travel, I don’t usually do full workouts but we make sure to swim, snorkel, walk the beach, etc. This week however I plan on trying some HIIT workouts in my hotel room if I don’t feel like going to the hotel gym.

I also believe rest is important.

34 Lindsay @ FuelMyFamily July 30, 2012 at 5:05 pm

I take rest weeks often. they arent planned but whenever they happen, they happen. Sometimes its because i dont feel like working out and i know my body needs a break. Other times life gets busy, I’m traveling, and workouts just don’t happen so I take that as my rest. And I am always so motivated to workout again. If i notice my workouts becoming half-a$$ed I know its time for a break. Then when I return, i am all excited and full at it!

35 Paige @ Your Trainer Paige July 30, 2012 at 5:27 pm

Ok girl, I swear we have posting ESP – I was just putting together thoughts for a “rest and recovery” post! But you seriously nailed all my points, maybe I’ll just point my readers over here :)
And yup, I do a couple rest weeks a year.

36 tinareale July 31, 2012 at 11:28 am

We really do! It’s freaky! Hahaha!

37 Lauren (@poweredbypb) July 30, 2012 at 5:47 pm

Taking a rest week would have terrified me a few months back, but I can definitely see the benefit of it now after suffering with horrible burn out earlier in the year. I am taking a couple of weeks off the gym post LiveFit, and although I am still running, I count this as an easier week. I am also taking a set back week every 4 weeks in my marathon training when I cut the mileage right down.

38 [email protected] July 30, 2012 at 5:57 pm

LOVE it! I am a HUGE believer in rest, and totally took that active rest this past weekend when I went on a vacay with sisters/mom in CO. We did some hikes, but nothing too crazy. And it felt GOOD -and now it feels good to be back :)

Plus, the muscles don’t repair and work so great if we don’t give ‘em enough rest anyways–so we’re essentially hurting our progress if we DON’t take rest. Great tips!

39 Tamara July 30, 2012 at 6:42 pm

SO important to listen to our bodies! I’ve been sidelined by a nagging injury and there’s nothing worse than being FORCED to rest!
Walking is not only great for your body, but also for your mind!

40 Sarah K. @ The Pajama Chef July 30, 2012 at 7:30 pm

great reminder! can’t work out all the time :)

41 Miz July 31, 2012 at 6:57 am

yes yes yes
as I get older I find I need MORE REST to be my BEST self.

42 Leonor @FoodFaithFitness July 31, 2012 at 11:40 am

I think rest weeks are super important! Mine haven’t always been planned (ie, sickness), but if life gets too hectic, I just make that a rest week.

43 Julia H. @ Going Gulia August 1, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Great post. I think we all sometimes need reminders to really listen to our bodies and not push ourselves too hard. I tend to be one of those people who prefers exercising just about every day, and for the past few days I’ve been feeling way more exhausted than I should. I had a fitness class scheduled for tonight, but I decided to listen to my body and take the day off–I know my half marathon training will suffer if I don’t! Taking a rest can definitely be a good thing.

44 Bek @ Crave August 4, 2012 at 2:55 am

I thought I’d link this post to your other one titled ‘Change’- just to be a bit tricky. We start to see the changes when we rest and recover. Yup, see what I did there? Haha. I am quite proud of myself. Great post!

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: