Updated: Jan 18, 2019
Everyone has their own reason for following a fitness program; some want to lose weight, maximize sports performance, improve lifestyle, recover from injury, or feel better overall. But, no matter what fitness program you follow, there will always be one key factor that will make a massive impact in whether you successfully reach that goal or not. That key factor is getting proper rest.
To ensure you reach your fitness goals, you not only need to work hard but you also need to rest properly. But why is rest so important? Rest is important because progress is made when you rest NOT when you work. When you are exercising, your are breaking down your muscles and damaging them. This is a good and necessary process, but the actual progress is made when you rest and let those muscles repair and grow into a stronger state. However, rest doesn't mean just sitting around.
Here are 3 tips for making sure you get the most out of your rest days.
1. Actively Rest
Active rest means you engage in light to moderate activities. Doing this will help increase blood flow to the muscles which helps repair the muscle and also prevent them from tightening up.
Some good examples of active rest:
⦁ Go for a nice brisk walk 30m - 1h
⦁ Do a 1 set of 20 - 30 reps of a few exercises together like: Bodyweight squats + TRX row + TRX pushups
⦁ Go for a short bike ride or swim
⦁ Do a yoga routine
2. Focus on your weaknesses
Everyone has some weaknesses they need to work on. Often times you can improve your weaknesses by focusing on things like improving balance, reducing muscular imbalances, and increasing flexibility. This will greatly improve your performance and reduce the risk of injury. Excellent ways to improve common upper body, lower body, and core weaknesses.
⦁ Do balance exercises on a bosu ball like squats, pushups, and planks.
⦁ Work with your body weight to reduce intensity and focus on proper form/muscle engagement. Using the TRX is an excellent way to do this because you can keep the intensity light while still building up the stabilizing muscles.
⦁ Use bands. Bands are a great way to improve core strength and target some of the smaller muscles that are hard to hit. For example, try doing a lateral band walk - You'll be targeting your glutes and abductors.
⦁ Build up your core. Having a strong core helps with every fitness goal there is. Doing plank variations is an excellent way to build up your core.
3. Take a mental break
Reaching a fitness goal is hard work, it takes time, effort, and constant attention. Your brain will also need a break. Take the day(s) off to try something new in a new place. Get out of your normal routine. Doing this will help improve your overall fitness but also help to keep you motivated and focused so that you avoid burning out or losing motivation.
⦁ Try a new group fitness class at your gym
⦁ Go through a workout routine with exercises you have never tried before
⦁ Do something active outdoors: hike, swim, kayack, yard work
4. BONUS TIP!
Real simple here. Don't eat crap just because it is your day off. You didn't earn a day or two to treat your body like crap. You put in all that hard to make progress and see results not "earn" the privileged to damage your body. Stick to your plan. Be consistently consistent.