How to Tell if You Need a Rest Day or if You’re Just Lacking Motivation

Cat Kom & Brian will help you understand the difference.

Do you ever find yourself wanting to skip a workout, but you’re not sure if you need a rest or are just feeling lazy? Studio SWEAT onDemand member Isabelle recently asked, “How can we not confuse the mind and body’s need to recover with the mind’s lack of motivation?” 

This is a hot topic for anyone who works out in the moderate to high zones on the regular, so Cat Kom is joined by Trainer Brian, who has a really hard time with rest, even when he really needs it. (Is that why he was chosen for the assist? You bet it is!)

Here’s the deal: Of course, you should listen to your body, but Cat said “The mental aspect of ‘rest’ really is a bit of a mind-f**k. Apologies for the language, but there’s no other phrase that says it better. Are you really overtraining, or is something else dragging you down? You gotta analyze that.” To help, Cat and Brian have some great tips to help you figure it out.

Do I need more rest? Maybe if you’re experiencing any of these situations:

1) Elevated resting heart rate – if you know your resting heart rate, but it’s higher in the morning than normal, that may mean your heart is working harder to send blood to heal your body.

2) Unexpectedly tired – we’re not talking tired because you were up half the night with a sick kid, or in the midst of a stressful work situation. If you’ve gotten regular good sleep, and are still tired, you may have an overstimulated nervous system helping with healing.

3) Unusually moody – mood swings can be impacted if your insulin levels change or are thrown off. 

4) Sore beyond 72 hours – we do love that post-workout muscle burn feeling, yeah? Well, if you’re still noticing it 72 hours post-workout, that’s a big sign that you need a rest day OR a partial rest day. If you killed it on leg day, maybe try a LISS ride like this one and stick to arms for your strength training.

5) A few bad workouts in a row – if your form is consistently breaking down, you’re struggling to lift the same weights, you’re not Spinning as strong as usual, it might be a good idea to add a rest and reset.

6) Not progressing – if you keep doing the same workouts, but aren’t improving performance, that’s a signal from your body that you need a rest.

Do I need to push through? Ask yourself:

• Did I sleep well?
• Am I in a good mood?
• Do I want to train?

If you answer “yes” to 2 or more of these, get your SWEAT on!

Hey, we KNOW it can be hard to take a rest day. We get so focused on our goals, but our body’s needs are more important than a goal on paper. Take the rest when you need it, maybe adjusting your rest day, or adding a double-day when you’re back on track. With the tips above, we hope it’ll be easier to listen to your body AND stay motivated.

If you’re looking for lower intensity workouts like LISS rides or yoga & stretching, check out our Mind + Body category on Studio SWEAT onDemand for lots of great options. And when it’s NOT a rest day, we’ve got lots of body sculpting, fat torching workouts at Studio SWEAT onDemand! Download the app, or if you happen to live in southern California, visit us in our San Diego studio.


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Here's what people said about “How to Tell if You Need a Rest Day or if You’re Just Lacking Motivation”


This is great information and I find myself in that situation from time to time, but the other situation I encounter is ‘time’. Especially this time of year when there is a lot more outside work that needs done and can only be accomplished when there is still daylight. So with working all day, getting things done outside, family meal times, etc. it is challenging to get a decent workout in… unless you take Master Mikes advice from his new class ‘The Negotiation’

Another terrific, informative session. Many thanks for whoever asked the question and more so for you two to have answered it! Something that we have all thought about at one time or another.

Good advice – I’m always confused if I should or shouldn’t take a rest day but the 3 questions are a simple way to assess what my body needs – thanks.

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Thank you so much for tackling my question! You did a great job at tackling the question both from a physical and mental perspectives. I, like Brian and I am sure many Komrades, have a hard time taking rest days because I am somewhat addicted to Sweat. Especially SweatOnDemand! But my ultimate goal is to keep Sweating for the rest of my life so its important that I build recovery as part of my training cycle. I have started using a device that provides me with daily sleep, strain and other technical info (e.g. overnight heart rate and heart variation rate) information and am using it to ensure that I actually listen to my body and manage my exertion level accordingly. As you suggest in your 21 part 2, Brian, we are all athletes so we owe it to ourselves to train wisely! Thank you again!!!