You’ve put in the time at the gym and a rest day is now upon you! While some people look forward to and can’t wait for their rest days, for others, this isn’t quite how the situation plays out.
If you’re a self-professed gym-addict, you may heavily despise these days. Rest days can be hard if you love exercise, but as part of any good workout program, they are a must.
Sadly, some people aren’t making the most out of their rest days because they make a few critical mistakes along the way.
Let’s take a closer look at the biggest do’s and don’ts to remember as you gear up for the rest day ahead.
Do Keep Your Nutrition Up
Perhaps the biggest mistake that’s commonly made on rest days is cutting way back on nutrition. You might think that since you aren’t burning calories in the gym like you normally would be, this means you should just cut way back on how many carbs and calories you consume.
Not so fast! Remember that your body still needs those calories for proper repair and recovery. Short yourself too much and you won’t be rebuilding your muscle tissues back as you should.
While it’s understandable you might cut your carbs back by up to 50 grams or so on days you don’t workout if you are aiming for fat loss, don’t reduce back much more than this. And, remember to keep your protein intake up as it’s this nutrient that will provide the raw materials the muscles need for repair and rebuilding.
Check out this video for more on the importance of rest days.
Don’t Hit The Gym For An Easy Cardio Session
You might think…. “I’ll just hit the gym for an easy cardio session today.” This would be a big mistake. If you are a gym-addict, chances are good once you’re there on that treadmill, you’ll be giving it all you’ve got and turn that easy session into a full blown workout.
Rest days are meant to rest. There’s nothing wrong with getting some movement in, but focus on low-intensity leisure activity. Think a walk around the block or an easy bike ride with your significant other and/or kids if you have them.
Any form of activity that you do perform should not be structured like a typical workout session.
Do Prioritize Sleep
The next must-do when it comes to your rest days is making sure that you are prioritizing your sleep. I get it – you’re busy. You have a million and one things to get through on your to-do list and it never gets done.
But, if you sacrifice sleep, your performance on everything in life will decrease and you won’t be getting good workouts in the next day.
Take the time that you would normally spend at the gym and do something productive so you can get to sleep earlier that night and get an extra hour or so in. this will really help to kick up your recovery rate and maximize how good you feel the next day.
When you sleep, your body goes into overdrive, repairing the damaged muscle tissues from the previous day.
What’s more, studies suggest that sleep and obesity may be linked as lack of sleep decreases your resting metabolic rate, your insulin sensitivity, and it can increase your food cravings for sugary foods.
Here are some tips to help you sleep better and faster.
Don’t Stress About Losing Your ‘Gains’
Another mistake that many people make is stressing out that they’re going to lose all their progress because they took a day off. Remember, you didn’t get into shape in a day and you certainly aren’t going to get out of shape in a day either.
It takes a lot longer than one day to start losing the results you’ve trained so hard for, so take comfort in knowing you will not be losing fitness as you rest up for one day.
In fact, most people will find the opposite. When they do come back to the gym after one – even two days off, they feel stronger than ever before and really notice progress has been made.
If you stress out too much about taking this time off, you’re just going to release a high level of the stress hormone cortisol, which pretty much hampers the entire recovery process.
Relax. Remember that you will be just fine. Rest is a key part of any good workout program.
Do Treat Yourself To A Massage
To help you rest up, you might consider treating yourself to a massage. This is a great way to get those deep muscle fibers that may be tense and sore from all the workouts you’ve been doing.
Getting a massage every so often is a great way to prevent injuries from occurring, which may set in if those muscles are left to be tense.
If you can’t afford to go for a regular massage, not to worry. You can reap similar benefits from foam rolling. Get out a foam roller and spend 10-15 minutes rolling out your tense muscles.
Don’t Neglect Full Week’s Off
Finally, as important as it is for you to take one day off per week, don’t neglect the fact that rest weeks are also important. After every 3-4 months of steady training, give yourself an entire week off.
Book a holiday so that you aren’t thinking about the fact you aren’t training at the time. Some extended time off is a great way to really give your body a chance to heal and to come back feeling stronger than ever before.
So keep these rules in mind as you go about your next rest day. If you treat your rest days with the same importance as you would any other training day, you’ll be seeing better results because of it.
Taheri, Shahrad, et al. "Short sleep duration is associated with reduced leptin, elevated ghrelin, and increased body mass index." PLoS Med 1.3 (2004): e62.