Rests days built into training plans for a reason—you need them. Watch out for these signs that it's time to listen to your body and take a break
1. It's only 5 minutes into HIIT class and you're feeling nauseous.
It's actually pretty normal to feel like you could maybe, no, yes, er, possibly throw up in the middle of your favorite boot camp class, and there are many reasons why exercise can induce nausea. But feeling sick after just the warm-up is a sign that something else is up or you've totally overworked your body, and it's time to take a step back.
2. You've stopped seeing progress or a 10-pound dumbbell seems incredibly heavy.
If you think you're some kind of superwoman who doesn't need a rest day—HA! You'll rest when you're dead right? Wrong! Everyone, even elite athletes, needs a rest day. In fact, it's those days off when your body goes into recovery mode, AKA protein synthesis, which is actually critical for building muscle. So rest up and you'll start seeing those gains again.
3. You snoozed three times and slept through the last alarm.
OK, you're officially exhausted. Even if you think you could physically work out, you probably shouldn't. Being tired can mess with your coordination skills—sort of important when exercising, ya know?—and falling off the Bosu ball probably isn't on your to-do list for the day. (On that note, Is It Better to Sleep In or Work Out?)
4. You hated every minute of your run yesterday.
So maybe yesterday was just an off day, or maybe you had a lot on your mind—it happens. But if you hated your workout because you just didn't find it challenging, rewarding, worth it, or most importantly, fun, then it's not only time to take a rest day, but it's probably time to reevaluate your fitness routine as a whole. Even if you have the whole fitness thing figured out, taking a break can help you reconnect with the exercise you've grown to love, so you can better appreciate it next time you want to break a sweat.
5. Your knee, ankle, back has been bugging you and now it's actually hurting.
It's one thing to work through little aches here and there, but another to ignore pain completely. Doing so can quickly turn that troublesome hamstring into a strain that puts you out of exercise commission for much longer than if you just took the one or two rests days your body needs.
6. You skipped a period...or two.
Overtraining can mess with your menstrual cycle and in extreme cases can even lead to a disorder called excessive exercising—often a byproduct of an eating disorder or severe body-confidence issues. (Find out What It Feels Like to Have Exercise Bulimia.) When exercise stops being something you want to do, and instead becomes something you feel you have to do, you not only need a rest day, but you may want to consider your underlying motivation for working out in the first place.
7. You're constantly anxious and cannot seem to just. relax.
Exercise has long been known to have positive effects on reducing depressive symptoms and mood swings. Plus, it just makes you feel good, doesn't it? Thanks, endorphins! But skip one too many rest days, and you're setting yourself up for the opposite effect—next thing you know, you're biting your boyfriend's head off or snapping at your coworker for no apparent reason.
So if you've established that you're in dire need of a rest day, but you're not sure if you should be taking the day to lay on the couch or if you should be stretching with a short yoga routine, find out How to Properly Rest from Your Workout.