You just completed a tough workout, and you’re so motivated that you want to do the next one right away? It may be tempting, but you won’t be doing your body or your progress any favors. You need to rest and recover from the hard work. That’s what workout rest days are for.
So what should you do on rest days? We’ll tell you which mistakes you should avoid and how to get the most out of your recovery days.
Mistake # 1: You don’t schedule workout rest days
Workout rest days should be a regular part of your training plan. This is when your body has the chance to recover and process the progress you’ve made. When you work out, your muscles are pushed to the limit, which stimulates growth. The muscles have to adapt to the increased effort, and your performance level improves.
…but muscle stimulation is just the beginning
Hypertrophy (an increase in the size of muscle cells in reaction to stimuli) only happens on rest days. That’s why it’s so important to schedule time for recovery between your workouts.
Mistake # 2: You don’t listen to your body
The more experience you have with exercise, the more aware you become of what your body needs. Fatigue, lethargy, and muscle weakness are signs that you have overdone it and you’re already in the overtraining zone. This can be caused by working out too much without taking a break to give your body time for muscle recovery. At this point, your body can’t process the muscle stimulation anymore, and your performance drops. Your motivation to continue working out also starts to dissipate. Your body is crying out for a well-deserved break. If you want to keep making progress, you really need to tune in. This is true for both endurance and strength training.
Recovery phases are just as important as your workout!
Mistake #3: You squeeze in a workout just because
Sometimes it’s hard to resist squeezing in a training session instead of taking a workout rest day or time for muscle recovery, but remember, you’re just putting the brakes on your progress. Your body needs a chance to recover to get stronger. Not taking the time to rest will only slow muscle growth, and over time, you’ll start wondering why you’re not seeing results. Another risk of spontaneous workouts is that you don’t do the exercises carefully enough or you overload certain muscle groups, which increases your risk of injury. That’s why it’s smart to follow a training plan with a goal.
Mistake #4: You don’t eat enough on rest days
Obviously, you burn fewer calories on your recovery days than on the days you work out. But don’t start eating less because you’re afraid of putting on weight. You have to fuel your body with energy and nutrients on rest days so that your muscles have what they need to grow. Keep in mind: a balanced diet can boost your athletic performance.
Mistake #5: You’re a couch potato
Doing nothing at all for a day can definitely be relaxing and something you need from time to time. However, try using your rest day for active recovery by focussing on low-intensity activities like brisk walks, yoga, cycling, or swimming.
Since people usually don’t stretch enough, we recommend that you take more time to develop flexibility on recovery days. You’ll relax your deep muscles in the process. Yoga, massage, relaxation baths, and a foam roller are great ways to loosen up tight muscles.