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It's a great feeling when you first become passionate about a new workout plan— meeting a new challenge has you feeling great, the exercise is making you feel energized, and you're ready to raise the bar more every day. This initial honeymoon phase with your fitness goals can be incredibly motivating, but can it ever be harmful to do too much early on? While most experts will suggest that you pace yourself (after all, you don't want to end up pulling a muscle and being out of commission after only a few weeks), a day without your usual reps doesn't have to mean a lack of progress. Below, we've put together some tips on keeping things in balance when you're bored of waiting around on your core muscle groups to heal.
One of the strangest misconceptions among newbie gym-goers is that their workout plan doesn't "need" cardio— regardless of who you are, this is never the case. Getting a regular, daily quantity of cardiovascular exercise is recommended by experts regardless of whether you're 21 years old and in peak physical condition, or 105 years old and in need of something to do between bingo games. Your cardio health determines your body's ability to regulate blood pressure, blood sugar, oxygen levels, and overall health to your muscles and organs— building too much muscle mass without the cardio health to back it up can even sometimes leave you at risk of future complications —so it's a perfect call when you need something to do on your lifting rest days.
Despite the jokes you've likely heard if you've spent more than 20 minutes around a lifter, leg day is a very real (and very important) part of being fit. One of the most basic mistakes that newcomers make can be to simply focus on their upper body strength early on, neglecting the muscle groups responsible for carrying you through life. Leg exercises don't just give you something to do on your off days— they're important for building and maintaining a framework that includes healthy posture and proper weight lifting form.
Rest days are important for a reason. If you truly can't come up with alternative muscle groups or fitness areas to target on your off days, it's usually healthy to consider just taking it easy for the day— in addition to getting enough sleep and a healthy diet, your muscles also simply need periods of time to properly develop —without rest days, you'll likely be doing a lot more harm than good to yourself in the long run. Go chill on the couch and read your favorite fitness blog.