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The Art of Aerial Rest: Why Taking a Break is Key to Your Success

Aerial/circus arts can quickly become an addicting passion. From that first class, you get that burst of exhilaration and you're hooked! You want to learn every trick, drop, and "flippity-do-dah huzzah" there is in the book. Am I right?!

It can be difficult to want to take rest days, especially when watching all the amazing aerialists on your social media feeds totally rocking it out!

There is no time for else am I going to be as awesome as they are if I don't train every single day??!! I TOTALLY get it! I was right there too...

When I first started training as an aerial artist, I was so excited and passionate about the art-form that I found it hard to take rest days, especially since I started aerial arts later in life. I felt as though I was playing "catch up" for all those years I missed. I would push myself to train every day, even when my body was sore and tired, because I didn't want to miss out on any opportunity to improve my skills.

Unfortunately, this mindset led me down a path of continuous injuries. I would develop small strains and sprains that would turn into more severe injuries over time because I wasn't giving my body enough time to rest and recover. Even though I was able to perform some impressive moves, I was also dealing with chronic pain and a lack of progress in my training.

It was not until my postpartum journey that I really started learning how to slow down and think about the quality of my training rather than the quantity. Now that I don't have a lot of time to train, I have to make my limited training time really count. My training these days looks a lot differently than it did when I first started and honestly it has made me even stronger than I was before!

I focus a lot on cross training now and I incorporate rest days into my routine, allowing my body time to recover and heal. It can still be a challenge to resist the urge to push myself too hard, but I know now that taking things slow and steady is the best way to prevent injury and build a strong foundation for my aerial training overall.

As an aerialist or any elite athlete for that matter, it's essential to remember that rest and recovery days are just as important as training days. Here are 5 important reasons that every aerialist/circus artist should have rest days incorporated into their training routines...

1. Injury Prevention

Aerial training is a physically demanding activity that requires a lot of strength, endurance, and flexibility. When you're training for aerials, your muscles and joints are under a lot of stress, and this can lead to overuse injuries, strains, sprains, and other types of injuries.

During rest days, your body has the opportunity to repair and rebuild muscle tissue that has been damaged during training. This repair process is essential for building strength and endurance, as well as preventing injuries. It allow your joints and connective tissues to recover from the stress of training, reducing the risk of overuse injuries and inflammation.

In addition, rest days are essential for preventing mental fatigue and burnout, which can also increase the risk of injury. When you're constantly pushing yourself to train harder and perform better, it can be easy to overlook the signs of fatigue and stress. Rest days give you a chance to step back, recharge, and refocus, reducing the risk of mental fatigue and burnout.

2. Improved Performance

Adequate rest can help improve your overall performance by allowing your body to repair and rebuild muscle tissue. When you give your body time to recover, your muscles become stronger, allowing you to perform better during training and performances.

When you train as an aerial artist, you're putting a lot of stress on your muscles. The repeated contractions and extensions that are required for many aerial movements can cause micro-damage to muscle fibers, which is why you may feel soreness and fatigue after a session. However, rest days are crucial for allowing your body to repair this damage and rebuild stronger muscles.

During rest, your body's natural repair mechanisms kick in. Muscle fibers that have been damaged during training start to regenerate and repair themselves. This process is called muscle protein synthesis, and it's essential for building stronger, more resilient muscles.

In addition to repairing muscle tissue, rest days also allow your body to replenish its energy stores and remove waste products that have built up during training. This means that when you come back to your next session, you'll have more energy, better focus, and improved performance.

The benefits of rest days on overall performance are well-established in the scientific literature. One study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology found that trained athletes who took two days off per week had significantly higher levels of muscle protein synthesis compared to those who trained every day. Another study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that strength gains were greater in athletes who took two or more rest days per week compared to those who trained every day.

3. Mental Health

Aerial training can be mentally demanding as well as physically challenging. The concentration and focus required for many aerial movements can be exhausting, especially if you're training for extended periods without breaks. That's where rest days come in - they allow you to take a break from the mental demands of aerial training, reduce stress, and promote overall mental health.

When you're training for aerials, it's important to keep in mind that your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Over-training can lead to burnout and can cause feelings of exhaustion, anxiety, frustration, and even depression. Taking regular rest days can help you avoid these negative effects by giving your mind time to rest and recharge.

Rest days can also help you stay motivated by breaking up your training routine and preventing boredom. When you're constantly pushing yourself to the limit, it's easy to lose motivation and start to dread your training sessions. But by taking time to rest and recharge, you can come back to your training sessions feeling refreshed and excited to tackle new challenges.

Research has shown that rest days can have a positive impact on mental health. One study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that athletes who took one or more rest days per week reported lower levels of stress and improved mood compared to those who trained every day. Another study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that athletes who took two or more rest days per week reported lower levels of fatigue and better sleep quality.

4. Increased Energy

Rest days are important for not only physical but also mental recovery, which can ultimately increase your energy levels and improve your performance during aerial training and performances. When you're well-rested, you are more alert and focused, which allows you to perform at your best.

Without proper rest, your body can become depleted of energy, making it more difficult to perform aerial movements with the same level of strength and precision. Over-training can lead to muscle fatigue and lack of energy, which can impact your ability to execute complex moves.

Rest days provide your body with the opportunity to recover and replenish energy stores. During rest, your body is able to repair and rebuild muscle tissue, which can ultimately make you stronger and more energetic for your next training session or performance.

Additionally, rest days can help you avoid injuries that can lead to prolonged periods of downtime and decreased energy levels. Pushing yourself too hard without adequate rest can lead to overuse injuries and increased fatigue, which can impact your energy levels and performance in the long run.

5. Better Sleep

Rest days can help improve the quality of your sleep, which is crucial for overall health and recovery. When you're training for aerials, your body needs extra time to rest and recover, and getting enough sleep is essential for this process.

One of the most important aspects of rest and recovery is sleep. During sleep, your body produces growth hormone, which is essential for tissue repair and regeneration. This hormone also helps to regulate your body's metabolism, immune function, and mood, among other things. Getting enough sleep is therefore essential for your body to heal and recover from the physical demands of aerial training.