If you’re just starting to work out, finding a balance can definitely prove difficult. Many people go full-force when they just get started, but that can be very detrimental. While you’re probably going to be very motivated when you first start your fitness journey, jumping in full speed is only going to put you at a higher risk of injury, both during workouts and in-between.
If you have ever went from couch potato to hard gym-goer overnight, you know the soreness that follows your first real workout. It is painful, and so much so that you might struggle to move around and even do basic activities, like walking up stairs or walking around in general. While anyone can expect to be sore after most workouts, beginners make some crucial mistakes that put them at risk of serious injury, which will only work against your fitness goals.
For instance, not warming up or stretching out enough before and after your workout is sure to increase soreness and slow recovery time. It’s also more likely for you to pull a muscle if you jump right into the moves. That’s why you should always emphasize these critical components of your routine. At the same time, you need to make sure that you adequately alter your diet in order to match the increased physical activity and calorie burn that you’re now participating in.
It’s also important to start taking in more protein and vitamins and minerals in order to support muscle growth, because you’re going to need it. But, with all of that in mind, beginners also often have a final question: How often should you take a break?
Remember, you don’t want to go so hard that you injure yourself. Your body needs time to heal, which is why even the best athletes take a rest day. Most experts suggest taking one rest day per week. You can workout on the other 5-6 days. But, your rest day doesn’t have to be a lazy day. So as not to lose momentum or work against yourself, continue to “workout” on your rest day by doing light physical activity.
How hard “light” physical activity really is will be relative to how hard you go on your non-rest days. If you swim 6 times a week, consider a light walk on your rest day. If you run multiple miles a week, consider a bike ride on your rest day. Ideally, your rest day will keep the muscle groups you usually work active in a low-impact, low-intensity form.