Taking a day off to relax is HARD, but there are some compelling reasons to schedule rest days like you schedule a hard training session.
I promise you, it will still be as productive.
What is a rest day?
It’s a day with either no physical activity or one with reduced physical intensity. Rest days allow your body to heal and adapt to your intense workouts. It also allows your body to place its glycogen (a stored form of a type of sugar your body uses for fuel) stores.
Any day with reduced physical activity, called active recovery days, speeds recovery. A light workout such as walking, an easy hike, or an easy spin helps your body remove blood lactate faster.
Blood lactate is lactic acid build up in your blood during high-intensity workout sessions. You’ll feel muscular fatigue when lactic acid exceeds the oxygen delivered to your muscles.
How often should we take rest days?
The amount of rest and recovery days depends on what kind of athlete you are (beginner? advanced?) and any other life stressors you’re currently going through.
Here’s one way to help you figure out if you need to take a day off:
1. Track your workouts to see how you’re feeling during each session.
2. Track any other life stressors you may have going on at the same time. Big move coming up? Didn’t sleep well? Relationship problems? Any extra stress can make your workouts feel harder than normal.
Tracking your daily emotions by a color code makes it easy to identify and highlight a string of bad days. If you’ve had a row of less than stellar days, it may be time to take a day off.
What should we do on rest days?
Drink. You’ll need more fluids because of sweat loss, weather, and how you’re feeling in general. The easiest way to determine your hydration status is through your urine color. This handy urine color chart can help guide you to your proper hydration level.
Eat. High-quality carbs and lean protein. And, you can hydrate even more by eating foods with high water content.
Sleep. There are four stages to your sleep cycle and the fourth stage of is where you’ll see the most benefit as an athlete because there’s an increase in blood supply to your muscles, and where tissue growth and repair happen. If you’d like to know even more about sleep benefits, read these tips.
Rest days leave you refreshed, mentally charged, and motivated for your next training session.
What do you do when you’re feeling unmotivated and run-down from your workouts? Leave a comment below!
A Multidimensional Approach to Enhancing Recovery, Ian Jeffreys, MS, CSCS, *D, Coleg Powys, Brecon, Wales, United Kingdom
National Athletic Trainers’ Association Position State: Fluid Replacement for Athletes, Douglas J. Casa, PhD, ATC, CSCS (Chair)*;Lawrence E. Armstrong, PhD, FACSM*; Susan K. Hillman, MS, MA, ATC, PT†; Scott J. Montain, PhD, FACSM‡; Ralph V. Reiff, MEd, ATC§;Brent S.E. Rich, MD, ATC ; William O. Roberts, MD, MS, FACSM¶;Jennifer A. Stone, MS, ATC#
Water Content of Fruits and Vegetables, University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture