By: Curmari Lewis, Personal Trainer
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Welcome back, to the last episode of this series. I discuss techniques you can incorporate on your rest days to maximize your recovery. Check out more Here:
The Principle of Rest and Recovery
As the video discusses the principle of Rest and Recovery, note that this principle suggests that rest and recovery from the stress of exercise must take place in proportionate amounts to avoid too much stress. One systematic approach to rest and recovery has led exercise scientists and athletes alike to divide the progressive fitness training phases into blocks, or periods. As a result, optimal rest and recovery can be achieved without over stressing the fitness individual . This training principle, called periodization, is especially important to serious athletes but can be applied to most exercise plans as well. The principle of periodization suggests that training plans incorporate phases of stress followed by phases of rest. Athletes may have a love-hate relationship with rest day, but it’s important for your body’s recovery. Everyone from college athletes to marathon runners should build rest days into their training schedule. Overtraining can lead to exhaustion, sore muscles, and moodiness, which may also make athletes more susceptible to illness or injury. Although it may seem counterintuitive, rest days can actually improve athletic performance. Here are 6 things that athletes should be doing to make the most of their rest days.
Listen to Your Body
First tip mentioned: listen to your body! When rest day comes around, take some time in the morning to assess how you feel. Ask yourself, What is your body telling you that you need to recover? Some examples may be needing more sleep, light exercise, certain foods or a combination of all of these. It is important you take care if your body by listening to what it needs.
Get Adequate Sleep
Second Tip mentioned: Mental and physical rest is equally important when letting your body recover. The average person needs 7-9 hours of sleep per night as mentioned in last weeks episode, and further explained that intense fitness or athletes in training may require you more sleep. Rest has been proven to increase mental sharpness, speed and reaction time in athletes. So plan your sleep ahead of time and know what your body wants to rest!
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Athletes know how important it is to hydrate during and after a workout, but that mentality should carry over into off days as well. Water acts as a lubricant for muscles and joints as I mention in this episode. Water helps the athlete avoid muscle cramps and soreness. Water is not the only answer; you can also incorporate sports drinks and hydrate through foods such as watermelon, strawberries and cantaloupe.
Carbs provide energy for when you’re hitting the gym, but on rest days it can be smart to limit them. Instead focus on lean protein which helps muscles recover and fresh fruits also veggies. Think of your plate as a rainbow, including as many colors as possible. The vitamins and minerals in these foods play an important role in recovery. For example, red or orange fruits and vegetables provide beta carotene and other antioxidants to reduce inflammation, perfect for body recovery.
Rest day is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of low impact workouts such as yoga or Pilates. Or simply take a walk, run, hike, etc. The idea is to take a break from those hardcore intense workouts, but keep your body moving. Aim for 20-30 minutes of light recovery exercise on rest day. Try to include Mobility stretches, Corrective stretching, yoga, and meditation to keep the body and mind active on recovery days.
Stretch or Foam Roll
Taking a few minutes to stretch daily can greatly improve flexibility and may help alleviate tight muscles. Revisit How flexibility can reduce your chance of injury on blog page. Stretching is vital especially on rest days because they can help speed recovery and reduce soreness/ injury. Using a foam roller provides a self-myofascial muscle release, which has shown to reduce muscle soreness and improve range of motion when done after a workout. For proper tips on how to use a foam roller please contact me directly 🙂
Lastly, Consistently training to be in peak performance requires a lot from any individual looking to met their fitness goals. Make sure you schedule time to reward yourself with mental and physical rest often. Rest days allow you to recharge and break away from intense exercises on the the body. Taking care of yourself helps improve your cognitive and daily functions. Most importantly rewarding yourself will improve your future performance.