Rest day is so important for your body! More than just an excuse to take a day off from the gym, rest day is actually critical for your recovery and making those gainz. But what exactly happens on rest day, and how can you make the most of it? These simple pointers will help set you up for a successful rest day and an even better training sesh!
What happens on rest day?
When you take a day off from the gym, the court, the field, or wherever you get your fitness on, you allow your muscles to recover. Your muscles need time to heal the microtears that happen during exercise. This is how you build new muscle mass.
Your nervous system also undergoes a regeneration on your days off. Central Nervous System (CNS) Overtraining can occur when you train heavily for days and days on end without rest. The CNS is responsible for generating muscular contractions in all movement types. You can alternate which muscle group you’re targeting, but a rest day is the only way to give your CNS a break.
Ever had a “workout hangover?” This can happen as the result of not resting enough between workouts. Contributing factors can be the buildup of lactic acid or CNS overtraining, amongst other things. So avoid that yucky feeling by taking a rest!
How often should I take a rest day?
Exactly how often you take a rest day will depend on a variety of factors, like how hard you’re training, how “experienced” you are at working out, and your personal level of health and comfort. As a general rule of thumb, you should take at least one rest day per week.
If you’re lifting weights as your primary exercise routine, you should plan at least two days to rest between muscle groups. For example, if you workout legs on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday should be dedicated to other areas, like back, arms, or abs.
But above all else, listen to your body! If you’re too tired, too sore, or dreading the idea of a workout, it’s a good sign to take it easy for the day.
Pro tip: rest days are the perfect time to meal prep, take a nature walk, or integrate some gentle yoga into your routine!
What should I eat on rest day?
It’s important that you keep up your protein intake on rest days, because this is when your body is rebuilding the broken down muscle fibers you’ve been creating during your workouts. Make sure your body has the fuel it needs to do this important work! Don’t forget about beans, quinoa, lentils, and fish if you’re not a meat-eater.
Complex carbs and high-fiber carbs are a great rest day option. Your muscles and CNS will appreciate the extra energy as they are doing all that important recovery work, so try to eat fruits, whole grains, and starchy vegetables.
If you’re carb-cycling, stick to a low-carb, high-fat diet on your rest days. This will keep you feeling full the longest while giving your body what it needs to make repairs. Think fish, avocados, nuts, and eggs.
How can I make the most of a rest day?
Rest day is all about letting your body recover. Taking the time to do some gentle yoga or foam roll those achy spots is a great idea! It’s also smart to add some professional healing into the mix.
Chiropractic care will help ease tension on your muscles by keeping your bones and joints properly aligned. A good adjustment also ensures proper blood flow to all your muscles and keeps joints tracking properly. This is important for avoiding injuries during your workout.
Dry needling involves the insertion of fine needles into muscle knots, tendons, ligaments, or fascia. This increases blood flow to the injured or sore area and helps stimulate healing, which is why it’s a perfect rest day treatment.
Cupping is a technique that creates suction and negative pressure, which can encourage blood flow, loosens muscles, and quiets the nervous system. Cupping is used to treat neck and back pain, sore muscles, fatigue, anxiety, migraines, and more. It’s a popular recovery trick amongst famous athletes, too!
All these therapies and more are currently available at Stark Chiropractic and Sports, North Houston’s top sports chiropractic practice.
See a Sports Chiropractor
Visiting a Sports Chiropractor instead of a traditional chiropractor is a great idea for athletes and beginners alike. Sports chiropractic is specifically aimed at the treatment and prevention of injuries in sports. If you’re just starting a workout plan after a long period of inactivity, schedule a consultation with Dr. Stark for an evaluation and guidance so you can workout with confidence and direction.
Dr. Stark is a Sports Chiropractor and a certified EMT in North Houston.
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