Is 2 rest days a week too much?

When it comes to working out and getting stronger, rest days are just as important as training days. Taking time off allows your muscles to recover and repair themselves, setting you up for better performance next time. But how many rest days per week is ideal? Is 2 rest days too much when trying to progress?

How many rest days do you need per week?

Most experts recommend taking at least 1-2 rest days per week when strength training. However, the optimal number can vary based on factors like:

  • Your training frequency and volume
  • Your fitness level and experience
  • Your recovery capacity and age
  • Any injuries or joint issues
  • Your goals

For example, a beginner lifting weights 2-3 times per week would likely need 2 rest days. But an experienced athlete training 5-6 days per week may only take 1 dedicated rest day.

Guidelines based on training frequency

Here are some general guidelines on rest days based on how often you train:

Training Frequency Recommended Rest Days
2 times per week 2 rest days
3 times per week 1-2 rest days
4 times per week 1-2 rest days
5 times per week 1-2 rest days
6 times per week 1 rest day

As you can see, most moderate training schedules call for 1-2 rest days per week. Only very frequent 6 day splits reduce it to 1 day off.

Benefits of 2 rest days per week

Assuming a typical 3-5 day training split, 2 rest days per week offers the following benefits:

Allows for full recovery

After intense exercise, your muscles and nervous system need time to fully recover. They replenish glycogen stores, repair damaged muscle fibers, and regain peak function. Most researchers recommend 48 hours between training the same muscle groups for full recovery.

2 rest days provides this time so you can train hard again. With only 1 day off, your muscles may not fully recover, limiting strength and muscle gains over time.

Prevents overtraining

Too few rest days can lead to overtraining syndrome. Symptoms include sustained muscle fatigue, decreased performance, irritability, lack of motivation, and increased injury risk.

Overtraining hinders progress and can lead to burnout. 2 rest days per week allows enough recovery to prevent overtraining for most lifters.

Allows for scheduling flexibility

Life is busy. Having an extra rest day built into your program gives flexibility if you ever need to shift your training days.

For example, if something comes up on Monday forcing you to miss your workout, you have a buffer day to push all your training days back without impacting overall recovery.

Improves motivation

Lastly, rest days improve motivation and exercise adherence. You have something to look forward to all week for both your on and off days. Plus, the workouts you do complete will be higher quality.

Potential downsides of 2 rest days

While 2 rest days is ideal for most, there are some potential downsides for certain goals or individuals:

Limits training frequency

2 rest days limits your training split to a 3-5 day split. Athletes who want to train 6-7 days a week for optimal skill and strength development may prefer just 1 dedicated rest day.

Not enough for complete beginners

Complete newbies may need 3+ rest days when starting an exercise program. Their connective tissues and joints need time to adapt to new stresses.

Too much rest for highly conditioned athletes

Elite endurance athletes who train for several hours per day can often thrive on less rest. Their bodies fully recover faster thanks to excellent conditioning.

Reduces potential training volume

Some people can tolerate and benefit from very high weekly training volumes but need to train most days of the week to achieve it. 2 rest days may limit their overall volume.

However, this only applies to advanced athletes. Most can build an excellent physique training just 3-5 days per week.

How to determine your optimal rest days

While 2 rest days per week works for most people, you may require more or less. Consider these factors to find your optimal number:

Your current split and training volume

Analyze your current program. If you are training hard with sufficient volume 3-5 days per week, 1-2 rest days is likely sufficient. If you are training 6-7 days per week, you may need just 1 dedicated rest day.

Your recovery rate

Fast recovery means you can handle more frequent training. Take note if your muscles seem to recover fully within 48 hours. Better recovery may allow you to get away with 1-2 rest days.

Your progress

If you find your strength gains stalling and you feel excessively fatigued, add an extra rest day. Continued progress suggests your rest is sufficient.

Your schedule and adherence

Think about your weekly schedule and ability to adhere to a routine. If you often have conflicts, more rest days provide scheduling flexibility.

Your injuries and joint health

If you have injuries or joint issues, add extra rest days. This reduces loading and impact to allow proper healing.

Rest day tips

Here are some tips to optimize your rest days for recovery:

Avoid prolonged cardio

While light activity is fine, avoid prolonged endurance training on rest days. The impact can impair strength recovery in your muscles.

Sleep at least 8 hours

Sleep is crucial for recovery. Aim for at least 8 hours per night, with naps if desired.

Consume sufficient protein

Eat around 0.5-0.7 grams of protein per pound of body weight daily. Protein provides amino acids to repair muscles.

Hydrate well

Drink sufficient water and electrolytes like sodium and potassium to rehydrate.

Use massage devices

Light massage via foam rollers, massage guns, or mobility tools can aid recovery without taxing the muscles.

Consider active recovery

Try light cardio, yoga, or mobility work to pump fresh blood into fatigued muscles.

Manage overall stress

Your nervous system needs to recover too. Manage life stresses via meditation, nature time, relaxing hobbies, etc.

Sample 3 day workout splits with 2 rest days

Here are two popular 3 day workout splits that incorporate 2 rest days per week:

Push/Pull/Legs Split

Monday: Push day (Chest, Shoulders, Triceps)
Wednesday: Pull day (Back, Biceps)

Friday: Leg day (Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Glutes, Calves)

Upper/Lower Body Split

Monday: Upper Body

Tuesday: Lower Body
Thursday: Upper Body
Friday: Lower Body

Both provide sufficient exercise frequency for most goals while allowing 2 days of rest and recovery.


For most people, 2 rest days per week is optimal when strength training 3-5 days per week. This balance allows for sufficient recovery while providing enough frequency to make progress.

However, adjust your rest days based on your specific needs and response. While uncommon, some individuals may require only 1 dedicated rest day or more than 2 off days.

Listen to your body and track your progress over time. Find the recovery schedule that allows you to continually get stronger while avoiding excessive fatigue and burnout.

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