When you first start climbing, you may have been like me and wanted to climb every day. I did that for a month or so before I started to notice different signs including constant sore muscles, fatigue and a dip in my performance. I decided to do some research about it and learned that rest days are an important part of improving your climbing abilities.
If you aren’t sure if you need a rest day, consider reviewing what my research showed as common signs that you need a rest day below. I’ve also included a short Pros and Cons list for taking rest days that may be of interest to you as well as what you should do on your rest days.
Common Signs You’d Benefit From A Rest Day
Soreness can occur when you start a new exercise program, change your routine, or increase the duration/intensity of your workout or climbing routine. If your muscles are constantly sore, then you would likely benefit from a rest day. To minimize soreness and decrease your recovery time, consider icing your muscles and drinking Turmeric juice after climbing.
Being tired after a workout for more than a few minutes may be a sign that you are fatigued. Fatigue can be evident as physical and/or mental tiredness that takes additional time to recover from. This is most commonly caused by a lack of rest and nutrition so if you feel this way, consider taking a rest day instead of climbing through it.
Fatigue can also increase chances of injury and it will likely decrease your performance so refrain from climbing if you are fatigued.
Pain in your tendons, especially in your hands can be common for climbers that climb too hard or too much on their hands without the proper care or rest. If you feel any pain in your tendons then refrain from climbing and wait till you feel better. If you feel you may have damaged tendons or nerves, it may be a good idea to visit a doctor. Doctors that work with climbers are the most ideal because they are more likely to understand and know how to help.
If you aren’t sleeping well, you may be overworking your body and need a rest day. Though it may seem strange to consider exercise as a reason you aren’t sleeping well, especially since exercise is one of the most commonly prescribed remedies for lack of sleep, there is a counterbalance that decreases the quality of your sleep if you overwork your body.
If you find yourself struggling to do certain moves that seemed easy to do in the past, your dip in performance may be a sign that you need a rest day.
When I climbed 5-6 days in a row, I noticed that my performance dipped on the 5th and 6th day. Since I started taking rest days, not only did that dip in performance decline, but I also increased my daily performance.
Crankiness or Mood Changes
A change in mood or crankiness has been associated with overworking your body and a common remedy is a rest. If you notice mood changes, consider taking a rest day. This doesn’t mean you should stay in bed, but you should focus on things other than climbing (see below for what you should do on rest days)
Elevated Resting Heart Rate
One of the signs that you are becoming healthier through exercise is by measuring your resting heart rate. The healthier the heart, the lower the resting heart rate will be. However, if you are overworked, your body may struggle lowering its heart rate and thus a rest day is necessary.
Many gym rats may suggest that you need to exercise through your sick days, but that is not the case. Your body needs additional attention while you are sick and a rest day is a great remedy for that.
In addition, if you are climbing at a gym, training while you are sick will increase the chances of other climbers catching what you have since your infested hands and feet will be all over the climbing walls.
Dehydration, Despite Drinking Water
Many climbers that need a rest day report their urine is darker than they would consider normal since they continue to drink the same amount of water as usual. If this happens to you, consider taking a rest day so that your body can recover and rejuvenate. Also, ensure that you are drinking extra water on that rest day to help the recovery process.
You Already Trained 5-6 Days Prior
Unless your training is so minimal and requires minimal effort on your part, then training more than 5-6 days in a row can be difficult on your body. Even if you feel like you can do another full training, consider taking a break to minimize the risk of injury or fatigue.
Pros and Cons of Taking a Rest Day
If you follow this blog, you may have recently seen a post about the pros and cons of climbing every day compared to the pros and cons of taking rest days. Below is a shortlist of the pros and cons for rest days but if you want a more in-depth outline of the pros and cons of climbing every day, check out this article, Pros and Cons of Rest Days and Climbing Every Day.
Pros of Rest Days
- Improves performances
- Improves endurance
- Give muscles a chance to recover
- Prevent muscle fatigue
- Prevent skin tears
- Prevent tendon injuries
Cons of Rest Days
- You may forget the technique or beta for your project
What Should You Do On Rest Days
Contrary to the literal term ‘rest,’ rest days aren’t meant for sitting on the couch or taking a long afternoon nap. According to research, you should fill your rest days with other active activities that don’t heavily involve the muscles you use during your regular exercise activities. In addition, you should refuel your body and maintain a healthy nutrition and hydration regimen.
If you run every day and are training for a marathon, running on your rest days would be counterintuitive. However, running on your rest day when your training days include climbing is a common rest-day activity. Since climbing gets your heart rate soaring, but doesn’t get your lungs pumping, many climbers have benefited from the cardiorespiratory benefits of running on their rest day.
If you aren’t much of a runner, consider other ways of getting your blood pumping such as yoga and pilates. Not only does that get your blood pumping, but it does a great job at stretching you out and improving flexibility, something all climbers can benefit from.
Unlike climbing training days, you don’t need to load up on carbs for energy but you should load up on other nutritional items such as protein, fruits and veggies, and vitamins and minerals to help you recover and prepare for training days.
One of the most important things for your muscles and the rest of your body is keeping them hydrated. Minimize sugary drinks or caffeinated drinks so that you can get the most fluid into your system. Water is the best way to hydrate as it can help minimize soreness and cramping as well as “lubricate” them.