Scheduling time to recover can help you avoid injury and enhance performance.

Keeping fit requires consistency, motivation and discipline — establishing a routine and sticking with it. But building fitness also involves regularly breaking that routine and getting enough rest. In fact, choosing when not to work out can be as important as the exercise itself.

“Recovery is part of the process,” said Justin Santos, a head coach at the Academy of Lions, a fitness club in Toronto. “Neglecting rest is just as bad as skipping out on a month’s worth of training.”

Getting fit is a cycle of fatigue and repair. And as we adapt, our bodies become stronger, faster and more powerful.

For the average gym-goer, it can be difficult to know exactly how much rest is right. What constitutes a proper rest day? Are you resting too little, or too much?

Exercise causes microscopic tears in our muscle fibers, and as we rest, those fibers are repaired, adapting to become bigger and stronger. This process of adaptation, called supercompensation, is what allows us to run faster, jump higher or lift more weight.

“It’s during the fatigue phase, as the body recovers, that we adapt to the training,” said Giles Warrington, a professor of human performance and innovation at the University of Limerick in Ireland.

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