When you’re starting out at the gym, it can be easy to get carried away and want to spend all your time there.
We get it! The high-energy environment, the post-workout high and seeing results can quickly become addictive. However, if you go too hard, too fast, you may find you end up setting yourself back.
Why active rest days are important
When you take a day off, you are doing your body a big favor. Time away from the gym prevents overuse injuries by giving your muscles and body the time they need to recover.
Taking rest days gives your muscles the chance to repair themselves and grow. You are also giving your immune system a chance to recharge.
Rest is also important to prevent burn-out. Too much of anything can result in you feeling as though you have had enough and don’t want to go back.
How often should you rest?
When you are starting out, it is important not to overdo it. Your coach may recommend a rest day in between each session while your body gets used to all the new activities. Listening to your body is important!
In terms of injury, you may need more time off than usual. Talk to your coach about the best approach for helping a sore muscle or ligament to recovery. They may recommend training at a lesser intensity than usual or a complete break for a period of a week or more.
What to do on your active rest days
Rest days DO NOT mean reverting back to old, bad habits.
Have fun and mix up the exercises you do on your rest day. Take a yoga class, do some pilates or go for a leisurely bike ride. You may also wish to take a dance class or do an outdoor activity like skating, paddle boarding or kayaking, to work out a different set of muscles.
On your rest day, don’t try to push your heart rate. You may find some simple stretching is all you need before the next work out. Another idea is to book a massage or physiotherapy session for your rest day.
Get some decent sleep on your rest days to really help your body be in peak condition for your next workout. What’s more, you should pay attention to your diet, looking for good sources of protein and preparing fresh, home-cooked meals.
On your rest day, you could also consider planning out the week or days ahead by doing some shopping and meal prepping. Staying organized is an integral part of your fitness routine.
For a balanced life, rest is as important as activity. Give yourself the time you need to regather your strength and you’ll find you perform better next time you’re at the gym.