We all want to hit the weights every single day, but the reality is that it’s more taxing on our body to keep tearing it down without giving it ample time to build it back up. Taking a rest day is very essential, l but so many struggle to do this properly because of our perception of what a rest day should be. It’s not a day to just sit on the couch and eat chips; rather it’s some much needed time to actively recover the body to prepare for the rest of your week’s sessions. Follow these tips on your next rest day and reap the full benefits of active recovery.
Active Rest 1: Yoga
Many of us, especially the guys, think that yoga is just for the soccer mom to perform a couple times a week to stay in shape. Not true! Many of today’s top athletes attribute their peak condition to being able to be strong and flexible that really only some type of yoga can supply you with. Not only is yoga a great workout but it also helps create mobility throughout the whole body and increases your range of motion. With an increased range of motion, this will translate into a better stretch and flex of the muscle you’ll work out later on in the week. Although considered a workout, yoga does allow you to debrief your mind as well and reset your cortisol levels by relaxing your body. Giving the central nervous system a break will help keep you in an anabolic state and allow you to smash the weights that much harder when you return.
Active Rest 2: Ice Bath
Let’s face it, by the time the middle of the week rolls around your body is probably bruised and beaten whether we admit it or not. A lot of injuries spur from not taking the time to relax the muscles and allow built up inflammation within the joints and tissues to reside. You’ve probably seen the huge ice baths in sports locker rooms but these aren’t just for collegiate and pro athletes. To take your training game to the next level, taking an ice bath for 20-25 minutes is a great way to reduce inflammation and heal sore spots. And don’t worry if you don’t have a commercial grade ice bath, your bathtub at home with some bags of ice from the grocery store will do just fine!
Active Rest 3: Stretching
One of the things that we as athletes or fitness enthusiasts probably don’t do enough of is stretching. It’s so much easier said than done to do 10-15 minutes at the end of your training sessions, so use your recovery days to really stretch your muscles. With all the pressing and pulling you’re doing it is not just a good idea but essential to stretch out your pecs, lats and front delts because these are the points that are of most concern and more prone to injury. Not only does stretching prevent injury but it also improves range of motion (just like yoga) that will help you achieve more muscle recruitment and action during your lifts.
Active Rest 4: Detox
Detoxing the body seems like a pretty foreign idea to most and some don’t really even know what this entails. What your goal is on active recovery days is to rid the body of toxins that are preventing you from growing. One example of what you can do from the inside out is taking apple cider vinegar with a shot of lemon juice. This helps reset you pH levels and balances the digestive system in order to hold on to the good and get rid of the bad. Drinking infused water is also a great way to rid the body of toxins and to rehydrate you. One of my personal favorites is lemon, cucumber and mint which all three ingredients help to rehydrate you and the cucumber helps relieve inflammation in the body. Simply eating a low carb diet during your rest/recovery day is also a great way to boost metabolism since you won’t need the excess energy supply from carbohydrates like you would on training days.
Active Rest 5: Take a Walk
Going along with detoxing the body as well as resetting your cortisol levels, taking a walk is a great way to just get out and relax. Not necessarily for cardio, but taking a walk outside will help the mind relax and your body to rejuvenate itself. Try to avoid using headphones so you can hear some sounds of nature or if you live in the city wear some headphones and find some relaxing music or even a mind release app.
As you can see, recovery days are not just for sitting or lying around and sulking about not being able to get in the gym. Use this day to properly recover and treat it like you would a training to get maximum results!