For me, today is everybody’s favourite day of the week… rest day. However, not everybody treats rest day correctly, or does the right things to compliment a hard week of workouts in the gym.
Firstly, it is important know why rest days are important. Of course most of us cannot make it to the gym seven days a week for various reasons, but lots of people make the effort to go as often as they can. Rest days considerably lower your risk of overtraining, defined as: ‘exceeding the body’s recovery capacity, indicated by excessive fatigue both physically and mentally and resulting in impaired performance.’
Overtraining is often known as staleness and can severely impede performance and your rate of improvement, as well as put you at risk of injury. A lack of rest days can also lead to burnout, physical or mental exhaustion cause by long-term stress, or in case of the gym, exercise without a break.
Rest day should be carried out at least once a week, if not twice, but this doesn’t mean you should pig out on any food you can find and sit in front of the TV on the sofa refusing to move all day.
- Keep mobile
As much as sitting around on the sofa is the easiest thing to do on a rest day, it’s a rest, not a day off. Keep mobile and include some dynamic stretching. This will improve your flexibility to do acute exercises and increasing mobility will put you at a lower risk of injury for quick, snapping movements during exercise.
- Do some cardio or a leisure activity
Not heavy cardio, of course, but a light jog or some interval training will keep you up and about without putting stresses and strains on your body. Alternatively, go and play a game of football or go on a bike ride with your family or a swim, something active but also enjoyable, you might not even realise you’re exercising!
- Continue to eat well
Rest day should include extra protein for muscle growth and repair. You can also drop your carbs as you don’t need as much energy as you would for a day at the gym. Excess protein may lead to excess fat, but that’s not a problem, neither is a little chocolate bar or pack of sweets. Who’s going to know?!
- Add extra nutrients
Apart from your macronutrients, excess fruit and vegetables can reduce inflammation around the muscles and speed up recovery, reducing soreness. Try out some new recipes on rest day too, it is meant to be a one off after all, have fun!