Rest and recuperation are the most important aspects of your training routine. Your body needs adequate rest after all the hard work you’ve put at the gym. Without proper rest, your central nervous system, musculoskeletal system, and your immune system take a beating over time.
Remember strength and muscle are built when your training goes hand-in-hand with rest and nutrition. So in order for your training to reap rewards, rest well. However, rest days do not mean cheat days. It is not a free one-day pass that you’ve been given to forget your training and fitness goals. You need to be active.
When you train, micro tears occur in your muscles. As the body repairs this damage, the muscles get rebuilt. In order for this rebuilding process to take place, you need to provide the muscles with the right nutrition and proper rest. So here are ways you can utilize your rest days.
1. Go For A Jog
You need to be active on your rest days. Sitting at home idle will make you sluggish, which hinders the workout later on. Being active will pump blood into your muscles, push lubricating fluids into your bones, and bring your cardiovascular function up to par. So a light jog or any form of physical exercise that gets your heart and lungs going is the good for your overall development.1
2. Get Some Good Shut-Eye
Sleep is when your body rebuilds your muscles. The hard work you put at the gym will be useless if you don’t get good quality sleep. The central nervous system, muscular system, and the immune system get a chance to recover properly when you sleep. This helps you feel fresh and ready for action the next day to hit the weights again. So sleep for at least 8 hours or more on your rest days.
3. Stretch As Much As You Can
Rest days are ideal for stretching. Due to time constraints stretching gets overlooked. It is important to do some form of stretching, especially on your rest days. Rigorous training will tighten your muscles to a point where your flexibility gets compromised. So to maintain your flexibility, stretch your entire body. Yoga is great for stretching that keeps your body active.2
4. Eat Well
Rest days can soon turn into cheat days if you’re not careful. You are taking time off from the gym, not from your diet. The body requires the right amount of macronutrients such as carbohydrates, protein, and fats, even on your rest days.3 Getting adequate vitamins, minerals, and fiber-rich foods will make sure the muscle rebuilding process takes place effectively. Healthy fats such as avocado, olive oil, and salmon are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, that prevent inflammation.4
5. Don’t Skip The Protein
Your body requires protein post-workout in order to rebuild muscle tissue. The body absorbs protein for up to 24 hours after your training session. So on your rest days, you need to give your body the regular amount of protein. This will not only help repair the muscle tissue but also with your overall recovery.5
6. Keep Yourself Hydrated
Drinking water is not just a ritual when you train but also when you rest. Staying hydrated when you’re recovering prevents muscle soreness, fatigue, and cramps. It also improves cognitive function and flushes out harmful toxins from your body. Not to forget, it keeps you full for a longer time and helps control cravings better.
In short, rest is very important for optimal muscular development and overall strength. The effort you put in at the gym will go to waste if you do not rest well. So take a day off and rest well so you can train harder when you’re back to the grind.
|↑1||Hillsley, M. V., and J. A. Frangos. “Bone tissue engineering: the role of interstitial fluid flow.” Biotechnology and bioengineering 43, no. 7 (1994): 573-581.|
|↑2||Tsatsouline, Pavel. Relax Into Stretch: Instant Flexibility Through Mastering Muscle Tension. Dragon Door Publications, 2001.|
|↑3||Beck, Kathryn L., Jasmine S. Thomson, Richard J. Swift, and Pamela R. Von Hurst. “Role of nutrition in performance enhancement and postexercise recovery.” Open access journal of sports medicine 6 (2015): 259.|
|↑4||Foods that fight inflammation. Harvard Women’s Health Watch. Harvard Medical School.|
|↑5||Stark, Matthew, Judith Lukaszuk, Aimee Prawitz, and Amanda Salacinski. “Protein timing and its effects on muscular hypertrophy and strength in individuals engaged in weight-training.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 9, no. 1 (2012): 54.|