The Importance of Recovery
Written by: Kaylie Ricks
You need to train consistently to reach your health and fitness goals, but did you know you also need to prioritize rest and recovery? Rest days are an important, but often overlooked, aspect of regular exercise, and when you optimize the ratio of work to rest, you’ll reach your fitness goals faster, feel great and avoid workout burnout.
Today we are going to discuss how to incorporate rest days into your training schedule and what to focus on to get the most out of each rest day.
What is a rest day?
A rest day is exactly what it sounds like - a day off from training! While it might sound obvious, it’s important you rest on your rest days. This means doing lighter activities, active recovery and things that relax you.
A rest day will give your body and mind the time it needs to consolidate the hard work you’ve been doing. Muscles recover, adapt and become stronger during your rest, not your workout time, and your nervous system has a chance to recover too.
Including appropriate rest in your training program can also help prevent a workout plateau or the fatigue that comes from overtraining.
What to do on a rest day
Think of rest days as a way to give back to your body. Use this time to relax and rejuvenate your body and mind in whatever way works best for you.
If you’ve been training super hard or you’re feeling tired,, a day spent watching Netflix or unwinding with a new book might be exactly what you need.
If you’re feeling energized, you can stay active on your rest days with light cardio for an active recovery workout such as swimming or walking.
Yoga is another great way to incorporate mindfulness and movement while promoting recovery, while some foam rolling may help to reduce any muscle stiffness. (If you haven't taken a Yoga class at MVP yet, you are missing out! We'd love to see you!)
What to eat on a rest day
The food you eat can help to speed up muscle recovery as your body adapts to your training load. But should you eat differently on your rest days? What you’re eating shouldn’t change significantly between active days and rest days, and you’ll still want to make sure you’re consuming enough protein to support muscle repair, and including complex carbohydrates such as fruit, vegetables and whole grains in your diet.
Eating mindfully and paying attention to your natural hunger cues can help you give your body the energy and nutrients it needs to support muscle repair. Depending on what your health and fitness goals are, how you’re choosing to fuel your body might change slightly from day to day.
Finally, make sure you stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water is a great way to replenish lost fluids and ensure you’re not dehydrated for your next Sweat session.
How often to schedule a rest day
You should always allow at least one full rest day each week. If you are new to working out or have recently increased your training, you may want or need more rest. Listen to your body, your energy levels and how your muscles feel.
The number of rest days you’ll need each week will depend on factors such as:
Your training style and intensity
Whether you are doing full-body workouts or split workouts
Your fitness level and how long you’ve been training for
Where you are in your training cycle
Lifestyle stressors outside your training
Where you are in your menstrual cycle
Your physical and mental health
Training style and intensity
Rest days are essential for promoting recovery and long-term wellbeing. How frequently you take a rest day will depend on the amount of stress put on your body in each session.
The body responds to cardiovascular training and strength training differently, so keep this in mind when planning your rest days.
The number of rest days you need each week will also depend on the intensity of the training session.
If you run or do high-intensity cardio workouts, it’s a good idea to rest or do low-intensity sessions like walking between each workout. You may also need more than one day in between workouts, especially when you’re starting out. As your body adapts to the training, you’ll be able to increase the frequency or intensity of your workouts.
Check in with how you feel
Ultimately, you should listen to your body. If you feel fatigued, sore, unwell, stressed or your workouts are unusually difficult, it may be a sign that you need rest — whether it’s in your program schedule or not!
Look after your body and mind with regular rest days
When you challenge your body to learn a new exercise, lift a heavier weight or work out at a higher intensity, it’s during rest that your mind and body adapts and improves. This is ultimately how you progress!
Including rest days as part of your training schedule is essential to giving your body the chance to adapt and grow stronger, which will get you closer to achieving your fitness goals.
Take time to recover, hydrate and eat well and you will feel stronger and more motivated to do your next workout! Have questions? Come let us know over on Instagram!