Fitness experts and personal trainers all talk about the importance of the rest day. In fact, rest days are said to be as crucial to a successful fitness routine as exercise days. But are rest days that necessary? And if so, what should happen on a rest day? Read on to discover our advice.
The short answer to this question is yes, including a rest day in between workout sessions is necessary and beneficial. Here are our top two reasons why:
Exercise, especially resistance training, is traumatic to your muscles. One of the dangers of not giving your body time to recover from this trauma is that you can develop muscle fatigue. During exercise, your muscles use glycogen, depleting your stores. Without time to recover and replenish, your muscles have no fuel and cannot perform well. You will also experience pain and soreness.
Skipping your rest day and depriving your body of recovery time also increases your risk of serious injury. Overworking your muscles will not cause them to grow faster. You are putting unnecessary pressure on them, which could lead to muscle strain, RSI, or deep tearing injuries, all of which will result in a lot of rest days in order to recover.
As stated, exercise causes trauma to the tissues. When you perform resistance exercises, you create microscopic tears in your muscle fibers. Rest days are when your body heals these mini-injuries and grow new muscle fiber. This tear and repair cycle is the basic science behind growing bigger and stronger muscles. If you tear and don’t repair, your muscles won’t grow as big or as fast. To increase your gains, rest, and recover.
A rest day doesn’t mean you have to be completely inactive. It is fine to include some movement, and actually, it can aid your recovery. But you need to ensure it is the right type of activity. Here’s what we suggest:
Yoga is an excellent choice of movement for a rest day. While we would suggest you avoid extremely dynamic vinyasa style yoga, performing some slow or static postures is a great activity. Yoga posture help to stretch your joints and muscles, and they also assist you in facilitating a deeper connection with your body. As you are most likely aware, true health doesn’t just mean physical fitness; that is only one piece of the puzzle. Yoga is a holistic practice, meaning it works on all levels of your being – your physical body, mental body, emotional body, and energetic body. It also helps to foster a sense of inner peace.
Performing light cardio on your rest days is beneficial. We don’t mean training for a marathon or doing aggressive cycling or sprinting, which is akin to hard training of the muscles. But, gentile jogging, walking, swimming, and elliptical exercise are all beneficial forms of rest day cardio. Getting your circulation going will aid in the oxygenation and nourishment of your muscles and consequently, in their recovery.
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