What you do on your rest day will determine how fast you recover from your last workout. For most people, rest days include binge watching Netflix and not telling anyone about that bag of chips that you smashed.
It's well-known that you need to have at least one to two rest days per week. I prefer sticking to a three or four-day workout schedule; doing any more than that means you really aren't pushing yourself while you are at the gym.
While relaxing on the couch can be a great way to unwind from a long day's work, limiting the amount of time we are inactive and sitting should be a priority. They say that motion creates emotion, so staying active on rest days will help with recovery and fight off the blues.
One thing I wish I knew when starting out was that staying active on your rest days helped with getting the excess lactic acid out of your muscles. This means the DOMS you are experiencing will subside quicker.
While you can do anything during your rest days, check out these 5 activities that are guaranteed to speed up recovery and keep you primed for your next gym visit.
Improve Your Rest Day
#1 - Foam Rolling
Self-myofascial release has long been used in warm-ups and post-workout active recovery.
On your rest day, spend 30 to 60 minutes foam rolling. This is preventative maintenance, speeds up recovery, and hurts so good.
You'll notice your DOMS subsiding and you will have a faster recovery.
#2 - Go Outside
Go get some fresh air and enjoy mother nature.
Finding easy activities to do outside lets you recharge from your workouts, increase your circulation, and helps your mind focus.
Walking, taking a leisurely hike, or riding your bicycle with some friends are all ways to stay active without creating too much of a physical demand.
Remember, today is your rest day; there's no reason to push yourself to the max.
#3 - Meditate
Your mindset plays a significant role in your performance, inside the gym and out.
Ideally, you should meditate every day. If you cannot meditate daily, taking the time to gain some mental clarity and distress on rest days will help you relax and reduce stress in your body.
Meditating regularly can relax the body, decrease your heart rate, lower blood pressure, and improve your concentration. These all ultimately benefit your health and improve your quality of life.
Putting the physical work in is important, but relaxing the body and main should be a priority as well.
#4 - Have a Spa Day
Treating yourself to a little pampering once in a while never hurt anybody.
While going to the spa doesn't sound like the bro thing to do, giving your body extra attention on your off day will work wonders.
Grab up a massage, stretch in the sauna, or use a cryotherapy chamber if they have one.
Keep your beast mode going after you recharge your batteries at the spa.
#5 - Spend Time With Family
Spending quality time with your family puts you in the right mindset, engulfs you with gratitude, and motivates you to keep working towards your fitness goals.
Take the family out for a walk, go play something outside with your kids, or have a friendly adult basketball game.
Whatever you choose, enjoy the time and know that your body is priming itself for your next gym session.
#6 - Try Dynamic Mobility Work
While mostly seen as a solid warm-up routine, dynamic mobility work improves your circulation, improves mobility, and helps get rid of DOMS.
Increasing your joint's range of motion will limber you up so you won't pull a hamstring trying to pick up whatever you dropped.
Having trouble hitting parallel on squat? Work those hips with some walking lunges and spend time sitting in the deep squat position.
Dynamic mobility is different than static stretching. Static stretching is just that, sit there and stretch. With dynamic mobility, you're utilizing exercises that increase your range of motion without making joints too unstable.
Here are 7 dynamic mobility exercises you could try out:
- Butt Kickers. Butt Kickers or high knees walking loosen up your legs and hips.
- Walking Lunges. Walking lunges stretch hamstrings, improve ankle mobility, and help coordination. I struggled to stay balanced while doing these when I first started. Today they still suck, but get the job done.
- Side Lunges. Bring mobility to your adductors and abductors while looking like you are a crab.
- Reverse Lunges. If walking lunges weren't hard enough, try reverse lunges. They will help stretch your hip flexors and quads.
- Bird Dogs. Bird dogs are great for building up your core, improving balance, and improving your posture. Try doing a few sets of bird dogs at 15 seconds each.
- Mountain Climbers. What's more fun than holding a plank? Feeling like you are running up a mountain while doing it!
- Arm Circles. Maybe that old guy in the gym really did know what he was doing. Stretch those pecs and improve mobility in your shoulders with arm circles.
Wrapping It Up
Getting up and moving around will help those achy muscles, trust me. Treat your rest days with respect and stay active outside of the gym.
Active recovery is important for your overall health, so stay active on your rest days.
The less time you spend sitting on your rest days, the more your body will be primed to train tomorrow.