If you have ever participated in a resistance exercise program or regime, you have probably heard about the “rest day”. But what is its significance?
ACSM guidelines for apparently healthy adults recommend that we should be participating in resistance exercises 2-3 times a week, with at least 48hrs between each session. Resistance training is appropriate when seeking to increase lean muscle mass or strength. In order to achieve this, skeletal muscle has to undergo physiological changes in response to strain and it is important for us to allow our bodies a break for muscle recovery.
When training with resistance, the muscles are overloaded causing the formation of micro tears within the targeted muscles. In response, the muscle fibres repair themselves and increase in size. If the muscles are not allowed sufficient rest time for this process to occur, the muscles are at risk of damage due to further and more significant tearing. As this response to resistance training is isolated to the targeted muscles, it is possible though, to complete resistance training on consecutive days when working different muscle groups (ie. Day 1 & 3: Lower limb exercises, Day 2 & 4: upper limb exercises).
In regards to aerobic exercise (ie. Cycling, jogging, walking etc), ACSM guidelines state that involvement in these activities should amount to 30-60 minutes, at least 3-5 times a week, depending on the intensity. In contrast to resistance training, there can be no harm in participating in aerobic activities on consecutive days.