Recovering After Your Workout
How to Make the Most of Your Rest Day
We spend a lot of time encouraging you to get active and to work hard in the gym. So it’d only be natural to feel confused when we recommend taking a day off. Now trust us here, those rest days are just as crucial to reaching your fitness goals as lifting those weights or running those miles.
First of all, if you leave rest days out of your exercise routine that could lead to burnout, over-training, and even injuries. When you aren’t giving your muscles proper rest they become fatigued more quickly. An increase in fatigue could (and usually does) cause a drop in performance and form. Improper form is one of the leading causes of injury.
Now here’s something important to consider: the difference between a rest day and a lazy day. Rather than take us at our word and head straight to the couch, here are some tips you can follow to help you have a productive, but active, rest day.
Choose Something That’s Low Impact
The key to maximizing your rest day is to choose an activity that will boost your heart rate without putting too much fatigue on your muscles. It’s important to remember that while you exercise your muscles get microscopically torn, and they rebuild themselves in order for your next workout to be easier. This is just a brief description, and if you are interested in learning more, research muscle growth or microscopic tears. Naturally, on your rest day you don’t want to prolong this rebuilding process by breaking down your muscles any further.
Here are some low impact activities to try:
Take a walk. You’re probably feeling sore, and it’s likely that the last thing you want to do is move around. The irony is that movement will be the best option for you! Try taking a walk, around the block or around your office, and see if you don’t feel a little less sore after.
Roll it out. I know that you’ve seen those people in the corner of the weight room rolling on a foam cylinder, and you’ve probably wondered why or what in the heck it is that they are doing. Yep, they are trying to roll out those sore muscles.
Using a foam roller can significantly reduce soreness; try giving each major muscle group at least five to six rolls. Start at the bottom of your calves and work up to your shoulders. If you find that you have an extra sore spot, spend a little extra time in that area.
Choose an Activity That Boosts Mental Health
Another way to make the most out of your rest day is to find an activity that promotes mental health. It’s been proven that all forms of exercise help to relieve stress, boost your mood, and improve sleep. Here are a few activities that are sure to help boost mental health by moving those muscles without breaking a major sweat:
Go for a hike. Sometimes a walk on the treadmill just simply isn’t enough. Time spent outside has shown to improve focus, your mood, and self-awareness. We are fortunate to live in the Pacific Northwest where there is no shortage of hikes available for all levels!
Yoga. Yoga seems like a no-brainer, and it is available to you at most of our clubs. After you train, your muscles contract. Lengthening the muscles back out through stretching or yoga promotes not only mobility but also a more thorough recovery. (Contact us if you are interested in experiencing one of our Yoga classes!)
While hydration is an important aspect to your everyday life, take it up a notch on your rest days. You lose a lot of water through sweating -- more than you may think. According to Active.com, the average person sweats between 0.8 and 1.4 liters of water per hour of exercise. If you’re like me, you work out after your busy work day, and I often don’t have the time to replenish my water throughout the day, so I dedicate my rest day toward drinking a sufficient amount of water.
Now there is a some argument about the “correct” amount of water you should be drinking per day, but rule of thumb says try and drink eight, 8-ounce glasses. However, when exercising you should add a couple more glasses. Try and shoot for nine to ten glasses.
Here are some tips to help drinking water come more easily:
Carry a water bottle wherever you go. Around the office, gym, or outside. It’s simple, if you’re carrying a bottle of water around you’re more likely to drink it!
Add some flair. I know it, water can get boring sometimes. An easy way to flair it up is by squeezing some lemon juice or adding frozen berries.
Focus on fluids. There are many different ways that you can get hydrated without drinking solely water. Pure fruit juices, tea, and milk can all help meet your hydration needs If water just isn’t making the cut (but really, drink some water please!).
Whether you’re a runner, bicycler, or weightlifter, you’ll want to try and take at least one rest day per week (assuming you are exercising every day). Also keep in mind that rest days do not equate to lazy or major cheat days. If you keep your day active and mindful, you should have a successful, relaxing rest day. You’ll be ready for that next work out in no time.