When to take a rest day from working out

To avoid injuries and illness, knowing when to take a rest day when working out is an important piece of knowledge to have. Your journey towards becoming a martial artist will require you to train regularly. However, there is a fine line between training regularly in a healthy way and overtraining. There is nothing more that kills the momentum you begin picking up from attending regular sessions than an injury and/or getting ill. In most cases, these two can be easily avoided and this is largely down to knowing when to rest and how long for.

In this article, we aim to look at one of the most important yet least spoken about aspects to becoming a solid martial artist. Recovery.

  • 1 Feeling unwell

    feeling sick

    Getting out of the house for some fresh air when you’re ill can be a great idea, coming to the gym, not so much. Although there are people who say ‘sweating it out’ is a great way to get over an illness, don’t make others ill in the attempt to get better. We understand how annoying it can be to not be able to train, especially when you have been enjoying the benefits of training regularly. It is best to allow your body the rest it needs. Becoming ill may not always be, but is often a symptom of over-training.


    Give your body the time that it needs to heal up when you’re feeling unwell. Your primary focus should be on getting the essential nutrients and rest you need. That means laying off any junk food, keeping hydrated, making sure you’re getting the vitamins you need and get at least 8 hours a night of rest. Boring? Maybe. However you’re in this for the long run, if you look after your body when it needs it, it will look after you when you need it.

  • 2 Injuries adding up

    If you’re finding that you’re collecting injuries every other week, you’re likely over-training. Although there is something that can be said for training through the pain, this relates more to pushing your comfort zone rather than powering through mounting injuries. Picking up little niggles here and there is all part and parcel of training in almost any sport. However, if you’re noticing that the rate that you’re picking them up is significantly increasing and the severity of them is starting to rise too, it may be time to give your body some much needed TLC.

    A simple rule to follow when increasing your training load, only increase by 10% each week. You can find an in-depth breakdown about the reasons for this here!


    It is often due to the small injuries being left unattended that eventually lead to more serious injuries. Take a break if you’re finding your injuries aren’t healing up, if rest alone doesn’t seem to be helping, it is worth contacting your local G.P just so you can get a better sense of what you are dealing with. As mentioned previously, ‘pushing through the pain’ can potentially set you back significantly longer than it would if you rest and recover properly.

  • 3 You’re just not feeling it

    cant be bothered

    You’ll have days when you can’t be bothered to go train, but you should still go. However, if these can’t be bothered days are happening all too frequently, you run the risk of putting yourself off the training completely if you keep pushing yourself to go anyway. Knowing when to take a rest day from working out includes having a long-term perspective when it comes to training in martial arts. Being a martial artist is very much about making intelligent decisions both in and out of combat, you want to keep the enthusiasm for training alive to keep you on the journey to mastery.


    How you use this newly found time if you decide to take a short break from training is important. Stay disciplined and ensure that even though you may not be going to the gym that you are still staying in shape. For example, maybe you’d prefer to do something social and non-contact for a couple of weeks, tennis may be a potential option. Another option might be just doing strength and conditioning. In essence, you want to give your mind the chance to find its enthusiasm for martial arts again and in the meantime keeping yourself in good shape. 

  • 4 Lacking sleep

    lacking sleep

    Although not a cardinal sin, you do run the risk of doing more harm to yourself and others if you haven’t had enough sleep. Martial arts may be enjoyable but they do need to be respected to avoid harm being done. Getting a sensible amount of sleep gives your body and mind the necessary resources it needs for your daily tasks and physical training. Reaction time is a vital part of training, especially for sparring. You’re also more likely to get sloppy with techniques if you’re feeling far from ‘fresh’, which can easily lead to injuries.


    Don’t get into the habit of relying on energy drinks and/or coffee to stimulate you before training. There is nothing wrong with consuming these products (in moderation), but they should be a supplement rather than a replacement for lack of sleep.

  • 5 Conclusion

    From reading this article, we hope you now understand how it is just as important to rest as it is to train. Sometimes it’s hard for people to get their head around this as rest is a passive activity and training is active, yet they both go hand in hand if your intention is to reach your potential as a martial artist. This point stands regardless of the discipline you are training in. By shifting your perspective and understanding that your journey is a marathon rather than a sprint, you’re more likely to stick with training and make it a part of your life for years to follow, reaping it’s benefits. 

    We hope you now feel confident about when to take a rest day from working out to ensure you reach you goals!

    We wish you the best of luck, train hard, rest well and aim for the stars.

    Want to ensure you’re doing your best to avoid potential injuries? Check out this article for more details!