By Emma Whitaker
The fitness industry is often rife with slogans and phrases like “no excuses,” “hustle harder,” and “there’s no traffic in the extra mile.” While there’s a time and a place for a bit of motivation on those days when we feel sluggish, how do you know when you really do just need a rest day?
Many a time I’ve found myself going through a training block that had taken a lot of energy from me. I get to that session where my lifts are sloppy, and I get cross and frustrated with myself. When I lose the ability to focus and lift with precision, I’m just risking the chance that I’m going to injure myself. Don’t get me wrong, we all have bad lifting days - those days when things just aren’t going right and you're not getting under the bar fast enough, or your breathing is off. But there’s a difference between an off-day and when your body simply has nothing left to give.
Did You Use Your Rest Day Well?
On average, each person planning a workout program will plan 2-5 workouts a week depending on their schedule. Those extra days where there are no planned workouts are often referred to as a rest day, but realistically, are we resting just because we aren’t exercising? If you go back to your next session after a rest day and still feel stiff, sore, and tired, there’s probably a reason why.
A "rest day" in the sense of not getting a workout in is one thing, but has your body actually had a chance to recover? Consider what other pressures and stresses you are under and whether your body really did have the chance to stop, rest, and recover. A day where you are so busy you couldn’t fit in a session isn’t really a rest day if you are rushing around full of stress and worry. When you get to your rest day, it’s important to really listen to what your body needs. Try blocking out some time that you would normally allot to a workout and plan some rest activities or some very gentle “active recovery.”
This could be:
- some dynamic stretching
- a massage or a hot bath
- some time on the foam roller in front of the tv
- a short, low effort walk
- some meditation or a mindfulness activity
If you make the most of your rest day and treat it with the same discipline as you do for your workouts, then not only will you find yourself feeling better recovered, but you will get more out of your active workout sessions. That way, you’ll find that you won’t burn out quite so often and feel desperate for your next rest day to come.
How do you spend your rest day?
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