You’ve no doubt often heard the phrase ‘don’t skip leg day’ but the same train of thought can be applied to your rest day.
Sure, sometimes sitting out a session or two can appear entirely counter-productive and go against your pre-conceived notions of what it means to stay to in shape, but what if we told you that putting your feet up can actually help you maximise your gains?
Pushing yourself to the point of continual exhaustion isn’t beneficial to your body. In fact, it can be entirely motivation-sapping as you drag your weary bones to the gym, repeating the ‘rest is for the weak’ mantra to yourself as your hamstrings ache and your muscles complain.
But what exactly does a proper rest day look like? Allow us to explain.
Watch your diet
As noted by Men’s Health, it is important to distinguish between a rest day and a cheat day. The former is very much part of your overall exercise routine and the latter is, well, ordering a the two pie special from your local pizza place. Instead, think of the type of food you will need to fuel your day and to maximise the impact of the work you have put in in the preceding days.
A healthy protein shake first thing after rising is your best bet here. Make sure you include protein power, spinach, berries and whatever other healthy bits and bobs your might having at your disposal.
Do some low impact activities
If you’re giving yourself some time away from the weights rack, think about what else you can do to spend your time productively. Yoga and pilates are ideal considerations as they will help keep you toned while also being relatively low impact. Also, after eight hours of being curled up in bed your body will be crying out for a stretch. Spend ten minutes on your mobility, you won’t regret it.
Adequate hydration is one of the most overlooked elements of an overall fitness plan. Water helps keep cramps and soreness at bay, while you should top yourself up with some high protein and high fibre foods. Also: see our previous point about disregarding your local pizza place’s specials that week.
Remember why you’re doing it
The physical and mental benefits of exercise are real and for some can prove to be quite addicting. It can be a tough lesson to learn for those of us who are used to being active — but just remember that 24 hours off won’t impact your desired result. In fact, it makes them easier to achieve.
Learn how to switch off
Being at ease with oneself is the goal here. What’s the point of sinking into your couch for some well-earned rest if you’re just going to feel guilty the whole time? It is important to remember that a rest day is earned, so learn to take advantage of it to the fullest.