I get the question about rest days all the time. So let's take a quick look at some advice for rest days.
Here is the question that prompted the blog:
One thing I've always wondered is more geared toward exercise. Specifically rest days. Should you always plan your rest days? Or just listen to your body? Is waiting until you're really sore TOO late of an indicator to rest?
Big topic covered this past weekend at the Athletic Genesis as well. Here is the advice I would give.
Life happens, listen to your body.
Let me break that down. Life will inherently 'give you' rest days. For many busy professionals it's an unforeseen project that pops up. For parents, it's usually a child-care emergency. For many it could be a sickness or whatever. The point is, you will be thrown curve-balls and rest days, so your schedule is only an exercise in theory anyways.
That leads me to the second point. You can only train as hard as you can recover. Current research shows that an extra half-hour of sleep (recovery) is MORE beneficial than f*ckin steroids! Listen to your body. If you feel like dog sh*t, do some mobility work, yoga, take a walk, or stretch. There is no need to blast yourself on a day when you're physically smoked.
Remember your body does not differentiate between stress. It's all the same, whether it be a lion attacking you, lifting a TON of weight, or an *sshole boss grinding you over whether you sent an email.
A great indicator of recovery is morning resting heart rate. Take your heart rate as soon as you wake up in the morning for 7 days straight. Average that number. That's your baseline. If you wake up and your heart rate is sky high, cut your training volume. If it's at or below baseline, have a go.