When you think of a day off from the gym, what runs through your mind? If you’re like us, a day off means eating whatever you want and being horizontal on the couch. But before you get too excited, this isn’t actually the rest and recovery your body needs to transform into the lean, toned, fat-burning machine you want it to be.
Rest and recovery are pivotal to progressing your level of fitness. As the quote says: “Muscles are torn in the gym, fed in the kitchen and built in the bed.” You may feel like you’re doing the hard work in the gym, but every gain you make is actually made while you rest and recover—and that’s why it’s so critical to do it right.
The great thing about rest and recovery—and perhaps why it’s so difficult—is that you’re actually practicing extreme self care. While it’s difficult for almost anyone to do, it’s particularly difficult for women to take care of ourselves because we tend to put other peoples’ needs first. Taking care of yourself doesn’t start and end with time on the treadmill or in the weight room; you also need to practice extreme self care during your time away from the gym in order to reap the benefits of your workouts. Here’s how:
5 Elements of Rest and Recovery
Get an Adequate Amount of Quality Sleep
Your day off from the gym shouldn’t be the night you stay up till 2 a.m. at the karaoke bar. Get yourself to bed early for 8-10 hours of rest. Your body needs it. Scent a pillow with lavender, turn on some white noise in the background, take a bath—do whatever you need to do to lull yourself into a deep, quality sleep.
Stay Well Hydrated
Staying hydrated every day is important but it’s even more so on a day off because your body is basically under construction while recovering. As you know, being hydrated makes every bodily function easier—and you definitely don’t want to stand in the way of progress at its most critical juncture!
Nourish Your Body
It’s important to not make your day off a CHEAT DAY (we recommend a cheat meal, by the way—more on that in a later post) where you fill your body with empty calories. Nourishing your body with healthy, unprocessed foods—and yes, plenty of protein—will assist your body’s recovery.
Recover in an Active Way
Relaxing on the couch, napping and sleeping are great ways to rest on your day off, but your body will also benefit from what’s known as active recovery. Basically, research has shown that engaging in low-intensity exercise directly after and in the days following more intense exercise encourages recovery faster than complete rest and allows you to recover physically and psychologically from the stress you’ve put on your body.
Who doesn’t like a good massage? Foam rolling is essentially giving your body a massage, and it doesn’t require an appointment or payment! It’s a nice little gift you can give yourself.
While it’s good practice to foam roll every day, it’s important to focus on foam rolling your entire body on your day off. Take your time and go slow to work the garbage out of your muscles and resume normal blood flow. As a result, your body will recover faster and be performance-ready in less time.
Are you ready to drop 1-3 pounds per week? Then it’s time to get serious about rest and recovery. Have a questions? Fire away in the comments section below.