rest days

How To Make The Most Of Your Rest Days

Most of the fitness world place a lot of emphasis on the type of workout you are getting in each day.

  • How many reps can you do?
  • What weights are you lifting?
  • What’s your squat form like?

Whilst these are all important questions, often they take priority over whether you are fitting in rest days. When you are getting into the swing of your fitness journey and beginning to see results from your sessions it is tempting to power through and ignore rest days. Working out is addictive, but resting is as important. Case closed

​The arguments in favour of rest days are numerous. From preventing injury to helping you go further the next time you hit the gym. Listen to the advice and think about scheduling them into your week. If you are a beginner you should rest every few days, but if you are more experienced, once a week is fine. You will be able to tell when it’s time to take a rest day by how sore your muscles are feeling and whether any stiffness is settling in. You might even find that your immune system crashes if you aren’t taking days off!

If you want to boost your performance and see your fitness levels skyrocket, then get going with rest days!

How to maximise the effect of your rest days:

1. Don’t go to the gym

Yeah, it sounds obvious, but there’s a surprising amount of people who can’t stay away. You might think you are only heading in for a quick stretch or a walk on the treadmill and then before you know it you are setting up at the squat-rack! Stay away from the gym altogether to ensure you aren’t tempted to pick up any heavy weights and ruin it.

2. Try restorative yoga

Yoga comes in a few different forms, so choose wisely. Often people assume that yoga doesn’t work up much of a sweat, but this is incorrect. More advanced yoga classes can be really demanding and leave you completely worn out. Restorative yoga is slow and focuses on a few key poses that inspire deep relaxation in body and mind. Perfect for a rest day!

3. Go for a walk

I know we agreed no gym, but a gentle walk is always ok. Grab your dog (or a friend’s) and head into the fresh air to clear your head. Walking is enough to keep your muscles active, but slow enough that you won’t over-exert yourself. A long walk is also great for clarifying your thoughts, so let yourself switch off for a while and leave your phone at home.

rest days

4. Get a massage

Treat yourself! This might not be essential for every rest day, but it can be beneficial once in a while. A massage will get your blood flowing and rejuvenate different muscle groups. A proper sports massage will work at specific areas and ensure that when you next hit the gym you will be able to go further than you thought. It will help take away any aches and pains you might have been experiencing before.

5. Foam roll

On the rest days when your bank account won’t stretch to a massage, you should get the foam roller out. Foam rolling is ideal for working out any awkward knots that are hanging around. It hurts, but it’s meant to, so don’t be alarmed. Spending time foam rolling out tight muscles will feel amazing afterwards and you will definitely notice the difference in anywhere that feels uncomfortable!

6. Stretch

Stretching is always a winner. Stretch as much as you can and don’t rush it. Giving yourself a long stretching session is rewarding and a great activity for a rest day. Put on some relaxing music, use a warm room and go through each stretch, holding them all for at least 30 seconds. If it hurts then don’t push it – switch positions and come back to that one when you feel more limber.

rest days

7. Meditate

As we said earlier in this article, rest days are for the mind as well as the body. Peak fitness takes a fair amount of mental agility, and mindfulness and meditation has been proven to allow you to utilise your brain to reach new heights both in the ordinary world and the sports world. Giving your brain a break once in a while encourages it to be more focused in general, which can only be a great thing.

8. Meal prep

You’ve got extra time at your disposal, so why not make good use of it? Nutrition is the foundation for peak physical condition and being prepared is the only way to ensure you stick to it. Lots of people find cooking therapeutic. Methodically preparing your meals for the week will keep you calm and in a relaxed state of mind.

rest days

9. Swim

Because swimming is really low impact, it won’t cause your rest day to become over strenuous. Maybe don’t go in for maximum speed butterfly lengths that last hours, but a gentle front crawl or breast stroke will do you good. It will keep your muscles activated on your day off and target muscle groups you don’t usually use. Aim to keep it slow and steady (no races) and don’t wear yourself out too much.

10. Relax

The last thing you can do to maximise your rest day is by doing just that – resting. Grab a book, watch a film, see some friends and relax a bit on your diet, and forget about the gym for a few hours. You will wake up the next day feeling mentally refreshed and ready to smash your PBs. Trust us.​

rest days

About the Author Kitty Harris

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