What is Niksen – The Importance of Rest

I know…taking time off can make you feel guilty of neglecting your training and obstructing your progress.

But sufficient rest is crucial for your progress and an essential part of the training process.

Also Niksen, a newly introduced Dutch concept, suggests that there are more benefits in off time than just muscle recovery.

Continue to find out more…


Calisthenics training is highly neurological. 


You need to start with greater frequency and a moderate intensity in order to train your cerebellum to get used to those new and advanced movements.

But as you progress, and your body and brain start getting used to the new movements, you will find that your biggest achievements occur after rest periods.

Your body isn’t just a pile of muscles that control your skeleton. You are a nervous system too.

And the nervous system doesn’t categorise different kinds of stress into their own little buckets… Physical stress comes out of the same bucket as sleep (quality AND quantity), illness, and “regular life” stress.

During the recovery period, the body is allowed to adapt to the stress associated with exercise, replenishes muscle glycogen (energy stores) and provides time for the muscles, nerves and connective tissue to repair.

Simply put, you grow stronger in order to be able to perform the same workout with less effort next time.

Lack or adequate rest could cause tendon injuries such as tendonitis (inflammation caused by overuse), or even worse, you could end up experiencing Overtraining Syndrome (OTS). This syndrome occurs in athletes when the amount or intensity of training exceeds the body’s ability to recover and can result in aching muscles and reduced range of motion.

Also, training too hard too often can intervene with your sleep cycle. This is because exercising can increase your body’s production of stress hormones, which makes it much harder to wind down.

Increased levels of these stress hormones, can also suppress white blood cell functions, leaving you open to infection. Therefore, periods of intense training could compromise your immune system.

In short, not taking rest days could do your training more harm than good.

Proper recovery will help you progress and achieve your goals faster, avoiding burn out, injuries and chronic fatigue.

Rest and skills

man in white pants doing calisthenics flag
Photo by The Lazy Artist Gallery on Pexels.com

As a new NIH Clinical Center study suggests, our brains may use rest periods to strengthen memories.

This is really important in Calisthenics, a highly neurological practice, with too much new information for the brain to process during each movement.

When working on advanced skills like the handstand, front lever, back lever, human flag, dragon flag or even the planche, it is almost impossible to see substantial progress during the same session, no mater how many times you try them.

It is only in the next session, after you have properly rest and try the same movements again, without the tiredness in your brain and the soreness in your muscles, that you finally see results!

Work smarter not harder!

“Everyone thinks you need to ‘practice, practice, practice’ when learning something new. Instead, we found that resting, early and often, may be just as critical to learning as practice,” 

Leonardo G. Cohen, M.D., Ph.D., senior investigator at NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke


In addition to that, spending a day away from your typical training environment can give you a psychological break from exercise and help your mind relax, allowing it to recover along with your muscles.

It could be an opportunity for participating in other activities and hobbies, or just DO NOTHING.

You are reading this right…

In our increasingly busy and stressful everyday life, where doing nothing has never really been acceptable, the Dutch came up with the Niksen concept.

man relaxing on tree
Photo by Dziana Hasanbekava on Pexels.com

It is a verb which, in Dutch, means “doing nothing” and has been explored as a method to combat work-related health problems such as stress and burnout.

Niksen literally means to do nothing, to be idle or doing something without any use.”

Carolien Hamming, managing director of CSR Centrum.

Practicing Niksen could be as simple as just hanging around, looking out of the window without thinking too much, lying down on the sofa and listening to music, or going for a walk somewhere — as long as it’s without purpose and not done in order to achieve something or be productive.

You can do it on your own and don’t have to spend any energy doing it.

Except of helping you free yourself from everyday life and from your own sense of duties, Niksen can have a wide range of benefits.

As stress levels climb globally and their crushing health impacts, like burnout, are getting more recognition from the medical community, doing nothing is increasingly being framed as a positive, stress-fighting tactic.

Another benefit of idleness is that it can help people come up with new ideas. Inspiration almost always happens when you’re doing nothing special!

Even when we ‘niks’ (do nothing), our brain is still processing information and can use the available processing power to solve pending problems.

This process can boost your creativity, help you solve a problem on a walk or have a great business idea while daydreaming.

To Summarise

Rest plays an important role in our everyday life.

It may help the body recover from an intense Calisthenics workout and new skills to be cemented in the brain.

As well as, by taking advantage of the Niksen concept could, could give space to inspiration and creativity.

Are you ready for a

FREE online class?