Fitness: Seven ways to take a rest day

Once a week, you need to kick back.

Once a week, you need to kick back.

When it comes to fitness, we live in a day where all we want is more. And to get more, we feel we need to do more.

This is somewhat true. If you never challenge yourself in the gym, on the track or on the saddle of your bike, you’ll probably stay right where you are, or worse, regress in your fitness. Growth is hard.

But do you know what is also hard? Knowing when to shut it down.

I’m thinking that this endless string of run streaks and burpee challenges is on the wane. Or at least I hope so. These things feed into the psyche that if you keep doing something all the time, you’re going to get some amazing breakthrough that’s going to explode your bench press, propel you to a new PR or help you get into those jeans that used to fit a few years and several donuts ago.

But here’s the truth: You need rest.

This goes beyond the need for adequate sleep, which is crucial when it comes to repairing your body and helping you grow. What I’m talking about is taking a rest day once a week.

For six days a week, train your brains out. But on one day, take a break for a whole 24 hours. Your body needs this time to be still and catch up on all the rebuilding it needs to do from that week of you killing it in your workouts.

So here are seven ways on how to take a rest day:

  1. Don’t lift weights. I’m quite serious about that. Just put down the bar and walk away. Don’t even darken the door of your gym.
  2. Don’t go run. Not even a light jog to shake out the soreness. Just leave the sneaks in the closet.
  3. Don’t jump on your bike. Or do laps at the pool. Or go to a fitness class. Just don’t.
  4. Do some foam rolling. Yes, it’s uncomfortable and can even be a bit painful. But it helps your body in the repair/rebuild process. We call this “active rest.”
  5. Do your corrective exercises. Whether it’s stretching or other passive forms of postural moves that help the body work out the kinks, go ahead and do these things. These are also good forms of active rest.
  6. If you feel the need to get outside and move, oblige yourself with a walk. Not a power walk or a strenuous hike, just a decent walk for a few blocks. That’s OK, and it’s good to get some fresh air. Just don’t let it turn into a workout. Keep it leisurely.
  7. Eat right. Stick to your nutrition plan on your rest day. Get your water in. Eat some protein with every meal. Just because you’re not working out doesn’t mean your body doesn’t need those crucial nutrients to build a stronger version of you.

How do you take your rest day? Any tips you’d like to share? Leave ’em in the comments.

Bob Doucette

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