I think it goes without saying that your rest day is your day off from training… and if you didn’t know, well, now you know! Simple to understand, but how do you make the most of it? Hint: It’s not lying around with your feet up on the couch all day!
Rest day’s are all about allowing your body and mind to recover from the strenuous activities you’ve done over the last few days, allowing your muscles to adapt and become stronger and giving time for your nervous system to regenerate itself. Creating time for active recovery will help you to avoid overtraining, fatigue and hitting the dreaded workout plateau.
What to do on your rest day
So we’ve already mentioned that sitting around all day isn’t the solution here, don’t get me wrong though, this will happen at some point throughout the day because who doesn’t like putting their feet up?! But how can you better maintain the momentum you’ve gained on your fitness journey thus far?
Active rest such as walking, light jogging, hiking, cycling, and yoga are all great ways to keep your body moving while getting sufficient recovery and promoting mindfulness in the process. Although those options won’t please everyone, if that’s you, not to worry, there are tons of other options available, just put a quick search into google and see which you think would work best for you. If you feel your body is too tired to perform active recovery then something like meditation, stretching or foam rolling can be a great substitute, they’re low impact, help to reduce muscle soreness and increase your range of motion.
What to eat on your rest day
Eating mindfully, even on your rest days may be more important than you think. What you eat can have an impact on muscle recovery and how your body adapts to the training loads that you’re throwing at it. If you thought you could just scoff your face with chocolate and sweeties, think again! (Well, you could, but we wouldn’t recommend it!). What we would recommend however, is that you ensure you’re getting a good amount of daily protein intake to help support muscle repair, if you can include complex carbohydrates and fruit and veg then even better!
Make sure you’re staying hydrated as well. Making sure your hydration levels are kept at a high helps to flush out toxins and lactate from the muscles which in turn helps nutrients to take their place to help with repair and recovery.
How often should you take a rest day
No matter how much you love your fitness you should always take at least 1 full rest day each week to ensure you’re allowing your body to recover and adapt to it’s training loads. If you’re just recently starting out on a new training program then sometimes 3 days of rest is most beneficial, this is totally down to you and how you train though. Here’s some things to consider when deciding how many you should take: Training intensity, training style, where you’re at in your program, stress levels (outside of training), how long you’ve been training for, and whether you’re training individual body parts or full-body.
Another key thing to consider is that if you feel like your body is in need of a rest, then you’re probably right! Listening to your body is just as important as having a set schedule, so try to be mindful on how it’s feeling day to day and learn what works for you and what doesn’t, because everybody is different.