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Rest Days: Your Fitness Secret Weapon Take a Break, You Deserve It!

Rest days are for wussies, right?

Wrong! Contrary to popular belief, they are an essential part of anyone’s workout schedule and are something YOU should consider adopting as well.

Not convinced? We’ve decided to hit the hypothetical books (because who actually reads books these days) and deliver all the information you need about what a rest day actually is and how you can utilize these days to better meet your fitness goals! Sounds like a win, win in our book.

rest day

To give some background, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity cardio a week. They also advise that adults incorporate resistance training for each muscle group 2 to 3 times each week. What do you do in between your training sessions? The ACSM recommends that you rest for at least 48 hours between each session.

Sounds like a lot of math. However, it makes sense if you think in terms of recovery.

rest day

What is Muscle Recovery?

When you’re hitting those weights or pushing yourself on the treadmill, your muscles are literally being broken down.

That painful feeling you experience during those last few reps or during that final quarter mile of your run is literally the feeling of your muscles being torn apart due to strain. Don’t worry though – this is supposed to happen, it is the only way you will get stronger. Resistance training and high intensity cardio are meant to break down your muscles and recovery gives them an opportunity to rebuild and – as a result – grow stronger.

A study done at the University of New Mexico found that muscle recovery goes all the way down to the cellular level. Rest days give your cells a chance to restore themselves. We won’t bore you with all of the technicalities, but those little guys need time to rebuild and it will result in making you healthier and stronger.

A lot of recovery does not have to do with science, however!

A lot of it has to do with YOU and how YOU feel. If you get done with a crazy workout and find yourself sore for multiple days after, you may need more recovery time than you would after a quick weight session at the gym.

rest day

What if I Don’t Take a Rest Day?

We get it, some of you can’t stay away from the gym. Kudos to you, but one of the most important benefits of taking a rest day is that you will avoid injury. Overuse injuries, like fractures, strains, and joint pains, are only a few consequences of overexercise. Too much exercise can actually lead to fatigue, decreased performance, unbalanced hormone levels, and many other negative side effects.

You’re definitely considering taking a rest day now, right? We’ve got a few pointers before you power up your Netflix and kick off your sneakers!

Things to Remember:

  • Always maintain your health: hydrate, eat food (that is good for you), and take supplements as needed.
  • Sleep 6-8 hours a night. Your body produces a growth hormone during its REM sleep cycle – which aids in repairing your muscles.
  • Plan rest days into your schedule like you plan your workouts – it’ll keep you in check.
  • Most importantly – remember that these are not days off or cheat days (but you can find out more about cheat days and cheat meals here).

Even though you are “resting,” you are still training and working towards your healthiest self! Your healthiest self doesn’t get McDonald’s and watch Grey’s Anatomy reruns all day (Or maybe you do, we don’t judge).

rest day

How to Actively Recover:

Some experts refer to rest days as “active recovery,” because you do not have to be bed ridden to let your muscles heal. It is said that you can still get moving on your active recovery days, but just not at the intensity of your normal workouts. While your muscles are resting, here are some ways you can still get out there and burn some calories without causing injury or strain (the options are endless, really):

  • Work on your flexibility – try a yoga class.
  • Go for an easy run/swim.
  • Get out and play a pick up football game with friends.
  • Go for a hike.
  • Try meal prepping – it’ll keep you in your “healthy” mindset.

No matter what you call your days off, be they “active recovery days” or “rest days,” it is obviously essential that you give your body a chance to chill. How do you make the most out of your rest days? We want to hear about it! Tweet us at @66Audio or post your best day off pic on Instagram with the tag #66Days.