Do You Need Rest Days for Calisthenics? [Based on Science]

Let me guess, you really like to do bodyweight exercises a lot but this question keeps popping out in your head…

Do I need rest days for calisthenics?

If you stick to the end of this article you are going to learn everything you need to know about calisthenics and rest days. I will make sure to give as many applicable tips as I can so you can use all the information in your personal life.

So without any further ado let’s get your questions answered…

So Do You Need Rest Days for Calisthenics?

If I can use only one or two simple sentences to answer this question my answer is going to be something like this:

Doing regular bodyweight training isn’t much different from many other similar types of training and sports. In every sport in which you have to train on a regular basis, it’s required to take rest days to give your body and nervous system enough time to properly recover. 

Or the even simpler answer than that – Yes you need! (Based On Science)

But as you can imagine there is a lot more than that. If I gave that answer to my school teachers they would get really mad and I would probably get a really low grade.

So let me give you the answer that is going to earn the highest grade.

Let’s get more in-depth so you can find out how to get the maximum from your rest days.

Is it a Good Idea To Do Calisthenics With NO Rest Days?

Given what I have said earlier I don’t believe it is.

No matter what you are doing if you don’t take days off from time to time you are going to reach a breaking point and your performance will suffer. That on its own is going to lead to weaker results, low energy, and many other things. 

And guess what?

Doing calisthenics with no rest days is probably going to have the exact opposite effect you are looking for – regression

This process is also called overtraining and is something you have to avoid at all costs!

So, Is Doing Calisthenics Everyday Lead To Overtraining?

Unfortunately, it does and once that happens only bad things start to happen…

Here are a few symptoms and processes that happen in your body during overtraining:

  • Your physical performance decreases. No matter how hard, long or correct you train you won’t become any better. Instead of that, you start losing strength, endurance, and agility. 

  • What was once very easy to do now becomes way harder and more challenging. It also takes more time for your heart rate to return to its normal state during the rest periods.

  • You don’t have enough energy during the day and you always feel fatigued and tired. Sadly, that is going to directly affect everything you do, not only the workouts. 

  • It’s harder for you to concentrate and you become unusually irritable. Those two things may have a negative effect on the people around you and your basic day to day communications because nobody likes to talk to those types of people.

  • Your stress levels increase which may result in restless sleep. Because sleep is extremely important for recovery everything that is connected by it is going to suffer because of the lack of it.

  • Not having enough recovery time may end up with overused muscle and joints. That, on the other hand, may cause additional pain on certain places. In addition to that, your body’s immune system becomes weaker and it’s harder for it to fight common illnesses and viruses. So you become their victim.

  • Because of the weaker results, you get you are probably going to start feeling depressed and unmotivated. And we all know how bad this condition can be for everything you try to do.

As you can see overtraining does exist and it’s one very nasty thing you don’t want to ever face.

If you stick to the end of this article you will find out what are the most effective ways to avoid it. 

What To Do When Overtrained?

If you do ever come across face to face with overtraining the best way to fight it is to follow all 5 tips I’m going to share with you. 

1. Take a week off

The most important and simplest thing you can do is to simply take a full week off. If it’s required that amount of time could be longer than that. 

What you can do us to simply stop working out for a while and give your body the rest it needs. I know this may sound scary but you will gain a lot more by just stopping for 7 days than continue training and making the whole situation worse. 

After enough time has passed and you start training again you will feel like a new person. You are going to be packed with energy, motivation and good spirit. And the good results are going to start coming all over again.

2. Lower the intensity and volume

If you don’t want to completely stop your exercise plan a good alternative you could do is to simply reduce your overall workout volume or intensity of your training. You can do that by lowering the number of sets, number of reps or number of exercises you do every day. 

Your goal should be to make the whole workouts less physically demanding so you can give your body less fatigue it has to recover from. And look on the bright side – doing so could give you a great opportunity to focus more on your mind-muscle connection and improve your form.

3. Focus on your sleep

We all know that sleep is one of the essential things responsible for our health and recovery. Having enough of it is going to help you get away from the overtraining situation faster. Sleep is also responsible for your levels of energy and it could play a role in your mood. The more sleep you get, the better you will feel. Of course sleep on its own isn’t enough to fight effectively against overtraining but if you combine it with the other 4 steps then you are going to get out of that situation fairly fast.

4. Eat enough food 

Even if you decide to stop working out for a week that doesn’t mean you should neglect your meals. Giving your body enough nutritious food is going to speed up the whole recovery process. Try to provide it with enough proteins, carbs, fats and of course calories every single day. Don’t forget to include a lot of vitamins and minerals from many different fruits and veggies as well. I know the whole eating well thing is not easy but lacking the right amounts of healthy foods may be one of the reasons why you have gotten yourself in this situation in the first place. Whatever you decide to do don’t underestimate the power of a good meal plan.

5. Make sure that you don’t overtrain ever again

There is nothing worse than repeating the same mistake twice. I know that bad feeling you get when that happens. 

In order to avoid that from happening here are some of the best things you can do to avoid overtraining in calisthenics:

Find out what exactly are the reasons why it happened last time. There are many mistakes that could potentially lead you to that breaking point. If overtraining is something that has already happened to you try to think and find out what exactly have you done wrong. What things specifically you messed up so it had to get to this point. If needed take the necessary time and really think hard about it. Once you have found out what were the problems write them down on a piece of paper. Then try to think of solutions you can do straight away today that are going to make sure you are not going to repeat the same mistakes again. Shortly said find the problems, learn how to avoid them and move on. 

Look for signs of overtraining. One of the best ways to deal with a problem is during its early stages. Don’t wait until it gets big and serious because it could potentially do a lot more damage. If you have read everything till this point then you are already familiar with a lot of the symptoms your body starts to show. Your best option is to try to remember some of them and look for them from time to time. If they start to appear you already know exactly what to do.

Have an adequate amount of rest days. Taking enough rest days each week is going to keep you on track. If you ignore what your body wants and keep training 7 days per week you will eventually reach that breaking point you are working so hard to avoid. Don’t worry by the end of this article you will know exactly how many days you need for recovery and how to get the best out of them.

Make sure everything is on point. If you want to be successful with your training you have to do 4 different things perfectly. Avoiding one or more than that may be the reason why you can’t reach the so wanted results you dream of. Skipping one of them could even lead to overtraining.

The 4 things I’m talking about are:

  • Nutrition
  • Working Out
  • Sleep
  • Recovery

If you are doing properly all 4 things then it’s almost impossible to fail and burn out. I know that it’s a lot easier to say than actually do but give your best to master all 4 areas.

Everything you want to achieve is directly responsible for how well are you following them.

Quick Tip: The most efficient way to avoid overtraining is to simply have enough rest days.

But how many?

Let’s find out …

How Many Rest Days Do You Need for Calisthenics?

So you know that you need to have rest days every single week.

According to science, it’s recommended to have at least 48 hours of rest time every week. 

So you need to have 2 off days every week to get the minimal time your body needs to recover and get the optimal results. 

That’s great to know but…

… what is really counted as an “off day”?

The way I see it this is a day in which you can have some physical activity but it shouldn’t be anything serious

The best to describe it is something you want to do in which you can use only about 20-30% of your total capacity. You are doing so because your goal isn’t to destroy your body and put additional stress. 

In other words, nothing too physically demanding can be counted as an off day. 

…or instead, you could simply be lazy and stay in your bed all day doing absolutely nothing…

What is the best usage of those 2 off days?

If I have to be honest it’s really up to you

You can separate them or use them together. 

You can also have more or less than that. More on that coming next.

Whatever weekly plan you choose make sure to have at least one rest day

If you don’t do that you are likely to end up overtraining. And we all know how bad that can be.

To make things easier for you, I will give you my top 2 favorite calisthenics workout splits so you can see how I rest. 

If you find them useful, use them. If not feel free to change them as you like.

Calisthenics Workout Split 1

  • Day 1: Workout
  • Day 2: Workout
  • Day 3: Workout
  • Day 4: Workout
  • Day 5: Workout
  • Day 6: Rest
  • Day 7: Rest

Calisthenics Workout Split 2

  • Day 1: Workout
  • Day 2: Workout
  • Day 3: Rest 
  • Day 4: Workout
  • Day 5: Workout
  • Day 6: Rest 
  • Day 7: Workout

Can I have more or less than 2 days of resting time?

Even if it’s recommended to have 48 hours that doesn’t mean you can’t have less or more than that. 

Please have in mind that this number could be slightly different for everybody because of the way people train.

The amount of rest period you might need is completely dependant on the volume, intensity, and length of your workouts.

For example, if you don’t have any previous experience in calisthenics it’s recommended for you to start working out 3 days per week. That is going to leave you with 4 rest days.

On the contrary, you might be working out 6 times per week but the workouts you do are not that long or intensive so your body can get enough recovery from only 1 off day.

As you can see that number can be changed and adapted for your current situation.

But even so, it’s highly recommended to give yourself at least 1 off day every week. 

Quick Tip:

Try to think and find out how many resting days you need for your calisthenics training routine. Don’t be afraid to experiment. If you feel like you are doing too much and you can’t recover increase the time with an extra 24 hours. Do so until you find exactly what your body needs.

Can You Do Cardio on Rest Days If You Do Calisthenics?

There isn’t a right or wrong answer to this question because it really depends on a few things.

Some of them are:

  • Are you doing cardio during the other days when you are not resting?
  • If you are, is it intensive or light type of cardio?
  • Are your calisthenics workouts only focused on strength and hypertrophy or they include a lot your exercises that increase your heart rate constantly?
  • What type of cardio do you plan to do on your rest days?
  • etc.

Depending on the answers you give to these few questions doing cardio on your rest days might be or might not be a good idea.

Nooo, I dont care!

Let me give you a few examples to help you …

First Example

You are like me. You mainly focus on strict form, slow controlled movements, and your main goal from your workouts is to build more strength and size. You also don’t do any type of exercises that can be counted as cardio. 

In that case, doing a light type of cardio on your rest days might be very helpful. I’m talking about a short jog, a bike ride or some other type of activity that isn’t very demanding. 

Second Example

If your calisthenics workouts do get your heart rate up for a while and you go for a long runs a few times per week then it’s probably better for you to have least physically demanding resting days. Meaning doing cardio os not so good option because you are already doing it.

Third Example

If you are somewhere in the middle with the two different examples from above you can probably still do very light cardio and give your body enough time and rest to recover efficiently. 

In simpler words you can do light cardio if you don’t do any similar activities during the week but if you already do a lot there isn’t any point of doing even more on your off days. 

There is a reason why rest days exist in the first place – to give your body enough time to passive state in which it can recover.

Conclusion

So now you know why it’s best for you to take rest days every week, how many you need and what is probably going to happen if you don’t take any.

If you are looking for some great ideas on what to do on calisthenics rest days then check out my other article from here

I really hope that you learned a lot from this piece of content and it was useful to you.

If you are really interested in calisthenics take a look at my other similar articles:

I believe you can find a few golden nuggets inside. 

Thank you very much for reading my post.

Please comment below what do you think about rest days, how many days you personally rest and what you do on them.

And don’t forget to share this article with your friends if you had found it useful.

Till our next meeting,

– Bozhidar

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Bozhidar Karailiev
Bozhidar Karailiev
Hey there, my name is Bozhidar and I have created this site to share with you my experiences and knowledge from over 7 years of training using my home gym, public gym and calisthenics. I have some experience into gymnastics too. Hope my articles are useful to you!

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