I’ve recently designed a program called IGNITE for Hot Mama Health & Fitness. And, it’s pretty interesting to watch people begin the program and within days notice a difference in their energy and strength levels. IGNITE is a 28-Day fitness program with nutrition guidelines and the purpose of this program is to reset and recharge your body. It’s a metabolic program designed to bump your metabolism and get your calorie-burning fire lit throughout your day.

I’ve incorporated rest days into the program. There are two rest days for the Fuel (Beginner) and Flash (Intermediate) programs and one rest day in the Burn (Advanced) program. Here’s the tricky part: people aren’t resting!

Now, I understand the program feels good. I understand that once you start moving your body, you crave movement. I understand that some days you have a ton of energy and you want to move and drive and push and drive some more. Oh yeah, on all levels from beginner to advanced our IGNITERS are ignoring their rest day! What the what?!

No. No. No. Rest days are ESSENTIAL to fitness programs and in particular, when you’re going through a metabolic program, rest days are not only essential, they are CRITICAL (dramatic much?!). As fitness programmers, we don’t chuck in a rest day to “break up the workouts” or “feel bad for working you so hard, so there should be a rest day here”. Rest days are placed within a program thoughtfully and with purpose.

Why are rest days so important? Because I said so. Oh, and also physiologically, you need to let your body heal!

When you workout, you are putting strain on your muscles, tendons, ligament, bones and joints. Essentially, when you workout you’re causing small micro-tears in your muscles, then your body works to “patch them up” and make them stronger. No rest? No patchwork. No patchwork? No development of new and stronger muscle. No rest? No development of new and stronger muscles? You’re left with muscles that are continuously experiencing micro-tears and no damage control. Aw, your poor muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints! Hello injury, welcome!

Another thing to think about: when you workout and you cause these micro-tears in your muscles, your immune system is activated to repair the “damaged” muscles. No rest? Your immune system goes into overdrive and eventually, basically, gives you the finger and slows down because you’ve pushed it too far. Now your immune system is down and that cold you’ve been keeping at bay for months attacks full-force. Poor immune system.

Finally, the psychology behind rest days can be incredible. If you don’t think of your rest day as “taking a day off” and you DO think about your rest day as a day of “building your body back up”, the workout after your rest day will be incredible. You’ll have energy and strength and stamina. A lot of that is psychological and a lot of it is physiological. Your body is rested and ready for the next onslaught of micro-tears. Your mind is in a place of “I didn’t workout yesterday, so let’s go!”.

So, next time you contemplate skipping your rest day, change the language in your head. Perhaps don’t call it a “Rest Day”, perhaps call it a “Recharge Day” or a “Reset Day”. You need rest days. Your body and mind need rest days. Be kind to your body and give it a chance to catch up to all the healthy and amazing changes you’re making to it. But seriously, give it a chance to grow and repair.

Rest on rest days. Recharge on Recharge Day. Reset on Reset Day.

Nourish your body on your Rest/Recharge/Reset day. Eat well, hydrate and think of the amazing work your body is doing.

Rest Mamas. Please rest.