Rest Days – Don’t Dread the Day Off

Rest Days – Don’t Dread the Day Off

Definition of rest day (from Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

: a day which is set aside for rest or on which one departs from a normal or usual routine

Rest Days are hard. Especially if you are dedicated to your training or a creature of habit. But, rest days are also a crucial component to a successful strength training schedule. The common consensus among trainers regarding when and how to schedule your rest days is:

  • 3 – 4 days per week of strength training.
  • Rest days dispersed/alternating with training days.
  • Avoid two rest days in a row.

What a rest day is not:

  • A wasted day. If you are committed to your training you may feel like you are “wasting” an opportunity to train by taking a rest day. Your muscles need time to repair, rebuild and grow! This growth happens is small increments every time you allow for the repair and rebuilding.
  • A free day. A rest day does not mean you can forget your health and fitness plan. Do not ruin all the hard work by over indulging every time you have a scheduled rest day. This is incredibly counterproductive and could do more harm than good in respect to you reaching your goals.
  • A sloth day. If you are tired, by all means have a nap, or turn off the alarm for one day. But try to make sure that you are still moving on your rest days. Moving will help in the recovery and rebuilding of your muscles.

What a rest day is:

  • A growth day.  Strength training stresses your body, rest days help. Your nervous system and hormonal levels reacts to the stimulus of training, rest days allow them to return to a more optimal state. Glycogen stores are depleted during workouts, rest days help you to refill your stores and have them ready for the next training day.
  • A fun day.  Play! Take you family or friends, head out and explore a nearby forest or trail system, on foot or bike. Grab a ball and head to the local soccer or football field. Take part in a local charity event as a participant or a volunteer.
  • An opportunity.  Treat yourself to a massage, visit the Outdoor Adventure Show or local outfitter shop. Go to the new Yoga studio your friends have been talking about. Try a new sport or adventure. Step outside your comfort zone.

Make the most of your rest day:

1 – Plan it!  Use the time that you would be in the gym for something that will help to further your health and fitness goals. Go to the local pick-your-own or farmers market, then go home and prepare meals for the coming days or for the emergency healthy stash in the freezer. Meet with your coach to assess your progress and plan your program to maximize your results. Book appointments with your health care providers, doctor, chiropractor, massage therapist or nutritionist to keep yourself in top condition.

2 – Cross Train.  If you are working on fat loss goals then using your rest days for cardio only workouts may help you achieve your fat loss goals. Interval training for no more than 30 minutes with running or cycling sprints is a great quick energizing workout. Long walks that will help you to stretch your muscles and keep the blood moving can help with recovery. Keep moving!

3 – Expand your knowledge.  Take a course at the local community college or online and flex your brain. Read a great study on the latest health and fitness research or watch a great documentary or Ted talk.

Bottom line is that your rest days need to be treated the same as your gym days. Both are critical to a successful training program. Your health and fitness plan is like a puzzle, you need all the pieces for the big picture and they all fit together to make it happen. Diet + Exercise, Training + Rest and Knowledge + Understanding are all vital to a healthy lifestyle!


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