What’s the Point of Rest Days?

Elwanda Tulloch

There’s a certain kind of gym-goer who has only two modes: “Rest is for the weak” and, umm, “Resting for the week.” Don’t be that guy. Pushing yourself to the point of burnout, only to find yourself sapped of motivation and slumped on the sofa isn’t big and it isn’t clever. Instead, schedule regular 24-hour breaks and use them wisely. Here’s how.

This content is imported from YouTube. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

Don’t Eat Like an Idiot

First, a clarification: this is a rest day, not a cheat day, and the next 24 hours should be geared towards recovery, not mindless indulgence. So, upon waking after eight hours without food, you need to fuel your body with all the building blocks it’ll need to make gains (or losses) after a strong week’s work. A breakfast shake with protein powder, nut butter, spinach leaves, berries and a banana will cover all your macro and micro needs. Don’t knock it till you’ve knocked one back.

Now Get Moving

A power yoga flow might be a stretch too far right now, but morning movement is crucial. Most of us sleep in the foetal position, which can be just as damaging as bad desk posture and lead to muscle shortening, exacerbating delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Ten minutes of mobility – including thoracic extensions using a foam roller, hip flexor stretches to loosen the pelvis and lower back, and some hip mobility work – will be plenty. Then lunge towards the sofa, if you want to.

This content is imported from {embed-name}. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

Fill Up on the Right Fuel

Keep a water bottle handy. Water acts as a lubricant for muscles and joints on rest days, helping athletes to avoid cramps and soreness. Meanwhile, go for high-protein, high-fibre meals to rebuild muscle and curb the hunger that can put you at the mercy of a scroll through Deliveroo. And pile in some good carbs in the evening: you need to restock muscle glycogen before tomorrow’s triumphant return to the dumbbells.

Eeeeeeasy Does It

If you feel the itch for your lunchtime workout, just remember: exercise raises your cortisol levels, affecting your muscles, nerves and brain. Without respite, this causes your growth hormone levels to slump, flatlines your metabolism and disrupts sleep – all vital for recovery. Giving your muscles 24 hours off won’t halt your progress, but it will stop physical burnout and keep you moving closer to your long-term goals.

Kick Back and Unwind

With a busy work week and family commitments, you need to unwind mentally. Training may feel like your escape, but go at it too hard and it can blunt your neurotransmitters, reducing your ability to harness the happiness and motivation hormones dopamine and serotonin, sinking your mood. An evening in front of the TV rebalances you, helping you dig deeper when you do return to your weights. Switch on, switch off.


Sign up to the Men’s Health newsletter and kickstart your home body plan. Make positive steps to become healthier and mentally strong with all the best fitness, muscle-building and nutrition advice delivered to your inbox.

SIGN UP

For effective home workouts, uplifting stories, easy recipes and advice you can trust, subscribe to Men’s Health UK.

SUBSCRIBE

This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io

Next Post

Most COVID-19 patients who are hospitalized develop neurological symptoms, new study finds

COVID-19 infections have at least some neurological impacts for most hospitalized patients, according to new data. Published in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, a new study examines the neurological manifestations of COVID-19 infection in 509 patients within 10 institutions in a Chicago hospital network from March 5 to April 6. […]