Put Down The Dumbbells: There's More Than One Reason To Take A Rest Day

Giving those bulging biceps a breather isn’t the only reason to take a rest day, according to new research presented at the American Physiological Society’s annual meeting; forgoing the gym once or twice a week is also important for your bone health.

Brock University researchers analyzed blood samples from 15 elite female heavyweight rowers throughout the course of their most intense training weeks of the pre-Olympic season. They then compared those samples to ones taken during recovery weeks, which included rest days.

The rowers had considerably lower levels of osteoprotegerin (OPG) - a protein that protects against bone loss - and higher levels of sclerostin (SOST) - a protein that hampers new bone formation - during the high intensity training weeks compared to lower volume periods, the researchers found.

Study co-author Panagiota Kentrou said this is due t the fact that high-intensity training results in higher levels of inflammation in the body, which can increase SOST levels.

Although there was no difference in the bone mineral density at the conclusion of the study – and more research is needed to further analyze the connection – Klentrou said prolonged high-intensity training might damage your bones over time. This can increase your risk of osteoporosis, making you more likely to suffer from fractures later in life.

Of course, taking a rest day is also crucial if you’re seeking bigger, stronger muscles, Tony Gentilcore of CORE in Brookline, Massachusetts told Men’s Health. That’s because lifting weights causes micro tears in your muscle tissues, and taking a rest day gives them time to repair the damage.

“Many guys get into the trap that every workout has to be hard, and that’s just not that case,” he said, recommending that gym rats instead try alternating the amount of reps they do each week between high, medium and low intensity.   

You should have at least one day of complete rest per week and also schedule a “deload” week every four-to-eight weeks to give your body the tools it needs to regroup, he added. 

h/t Men's Health 

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