We all know how much I enjoy working out, its my therapy, the place I go to quiet my mind, let go of whatever is stressing me out and focus on me for the 30-60 minutes. The only thing Im focused on during my workout is creating a stronger, healthier, better version of me. When you first begin a new workout program you probably find yourself looking forward to & even wishing for your rest day. Get a few weeks in to your routine, where you love the progress, look forward to the endorphin rush & appreciate the mental clarity and suddenly you no longer are looking forward to that rest day. In fact you might even feel a little off from your routine on rest days. BUTTTT that rest day is SO important. Your body NEEDS a rest day at least 1 day a week. That might give you anxiety, but I promise the benefits are worth it.
Ive learned from experience that pushing hard every day, never giving your body a chance to properly recover only leads to one place, INJURY. No one wants to be side lined for days or weeks just because you were to stubborn to allow your body so much needed and earned rest. Not to mention if all your body ever gets is physical stress without proper rest you can get to the point of diminishing returns, or the point at which more exercise doesn’t result in any more progress. I like to take an active recovery day most of the time instead of a passive recovery day, but when Im really feeling beat up full rest, relaxation and pampering it is. Whats the difference between an active recovery day and a passive recovery day? An active recovery day is where you do some sort of light movement but its much less intense than your typical, “go hard” workout. Things like walking, stretching and, yoga can all be forms of active recovery. A passive recovery day is just that, a day where you don’t perform any scheduled exercise. Think sitting on the couch binge watching your favorite show, or just catching up on day-to-day errands.
Why do I prefer an active recovery day? Working out at a lower intensity compared to just sitting around doing absolutely nothing actually helps aid in the recovery process. Light movement will help increase blood flow to your muscles and tissue, this is a good thing, it helps with recovery. Getting your blood circulating also helps flush waste and get nutritionist to your cells. Active recovery also helps prevent lactic acid build up (thats the lovely little chemical that is a byproduct of exercise, it causes muscle fatigue and post-exercise muscle soreness) and loosens your muscles back up. So, if you’re training 5 days a week or more make sure you’re getting in at least one active or passive rest day to ensure proper recovery.
HERE ARE MY 5 WAYS TO MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR REST DAY.
Sleep In. Sleep is crucial to recovery. Most people think all the benefits of exercise come DURING your workout, thats not entirely accurate. Your workout is where you tear your muscles down, literally. Weight training tears the muscle on a microscopic level (don’t worry thats whats supposed to happen) when it repairs it comes back a little stronger each time. Sleep is when your body repairs so don’t be afraid to get in an extra hour or two on your rest day, your body will thank you for it. Plus, how good does it feel to wake up naturally without an alarm?!
Stick to your nutrition. For some reason we hear rest day and it turn in to a complete break from your normal routine, including proper nutrition. While a properly planned and well timed treat meal can be nice on your active rest day, don’t let your nutrition go completely off the rails. Remember this is your day to help your body recover. It needs proper nutrients to do that, so make sure you’re sticking to your nutrition plan. If you use my color coded container system, nothing changes, eat ALL your containers. You might even find yourself more hungry on your rest day and wonder why? It takes a lot of energy to repair your muscles and clean out all of the waste and dead cells. You might not realize it but your body is working hard, fuel it accordingly. AND DONT SKIP YOUR WATER. Hydration is also very important, it helps flush the waste and toxins and keeps you hydrated.
Perform some version of active recovery. As I mentioned before, I typically prefer an active recovery day. Where I perform light exercise compared to doing nothing at all. Some other things you can do on your active recovery day include… Glute & Core activation exercise, think glute bridges and plank work. Self-myofascial release or foam rolling, you can use a foam roller, a tennis ball a lacrosse ball or massage stick. Self-Myofacial release can increase range of motion and reduce muscle soreness. Swimming is also a great form of active recovery, the water can feel therapeutic and theres no stress on your joints.
Practice self-care. Your rest day is the perfect time to practice self-care. Self-Care isn’t selfish its important and necessary so you can be the best version of you in all areas of your life, not just your workout. What can you do for self-care? Get a massage, soak in a hot tub, try out the infrared sauna (great healing benefits), cryo-therapy (brr its cold in here but it helps with inflammation in your body), take an epsom salt bath or try floating.
Prep. I always say being prepared isn’t half the battle, it is the battle. Your active recovery day is the perfect time to set yourself up for success the following week. Look up some of your favorite Fixate recipes, make a grocery list and get to meal prepping.
Do these 5 things on your recovery day and by the end you’ll feel relaxed, rejuvenated and ready to go even harder the next day.