I've come across a place in my boxing journey where it is harder to take a rest day than it is to keep up with my workouts. Ironically, not even two months ago I had to drag myself out of bed for even just a short cardio session, whether that's running, walking or biking. But now I'm a full blown gym rat? After talking with other friends about this dilemma, I've found that I'm not alone! Personally, my determination to continue exercising is driven by seeing even the slightest improvement in my level of skill. But others' reasoning range from seeing drastic results to seeing nothing at all, causing them to want to put more effort in than ever. But more effort isn't always better, and in the case of physically exerting yourself everyday, it definitely is not.
So, why take a rest day? If you're seeing results from your current routine won't you just continue seeing results? The answer is yes, but also no? Well, it really depends… While some might be able to push themselves to the limit continuously, and not find injury or burnout often, this is very rare. For the majority, we need a rest day. You might not always feel like it mentally, but physically our muscles need a break. When you exercise you create two types of stress on your body, metabolic stress and mechanical stress. Metabolic stress is the result of depleting the energy you have stored in individual muscle cell, whilst mechanical stress is defined as stress to the structures of proteins. It's only during the rest periods that your body can accurately repair the proteins and replace the glycogen that was used to fuel your workouts.
While they are famously called rest days, some professionals actually call them growth days. When we workout we are actually breaking down our muscles, so that when they grow back, they are growing back stronger. hence "growth". Basically, what that means is if you never take rest days, your muscles won't have enough time to build themselves back up, leading to potential injuries along with slowing your progress.
To optimize the “growth” in your growth days, you should take them in between your most strenuous workouts, about two to three times a week. These rest days don't have to be complete rest as well; going for light walks and bike rides are a great way to allow your muscles time to rest while still staying active. However it is advised to schedule at least one day of complete rest every two or so weeks. So find a comfy chair, sit down with your laptop and finish that work or binge that show!