No matter how fit or strong you are, everyone needs a rest day. The importance of recovery should never be underestimated, and should in fact become a regular part of our exercise regime, whatever goal you are training towards.
Resting is vital so that your torn muscles can repair themselves and grow new tissue. It also gives your immune system – which heats up and works in overtime when you’re training – chance to recover, preventing you from getting ill, and helping you to sleep better at night.
Overtraining can hinder a good night’s sleep. It can also lead to injury, as you over-work certain joints and muscles and develop repetitive strain injury. As well as this physical exertion, constantly working out every day without a recovery period will lead to mental fatigue too.
So you should always take a rest day, but that doesn’t mean stopping completely and slobbing out on the sofa (although a ‘Netflix and chill’ every so often won’t hurt you!) Rest day should still involve movement, so here are a few recovery workout options for you to consider.
Recovery Workouts for your Body
Perform gentle yoga poses
You may already have your favourite salutations, but if not, performing a series of slow and controlled yoga poses will help to gently stretch out your muscles and raise your heart rate, giving you a workout that isn’t too strenuous on your body for rest day.
Powerful, confident poses will also work to lower your cortisol levels, helping you de-stress and relax too. Try the Active Sphinx, Warrior 2 and Unilateral Camel to really open up your chest and boost your self-esteem. Not bad for a recovery day!
Make use of the foam roller
You’ve probably seen the foam roller, and you may have even tried it out once or twice. But have you ever used it properly? Recovery day is a great time to do a mini workout with this great piece of foam, as you work it over your whole body, slowly but surely.
Massaging the deep tissue helps to soften and release tight muscles, easing any contracting tendons and targeting nerve endings. This will help turn off pain receptors and make moving a lot easier. Be sure to work your whole body, targeting your back and shoulder, arms, bum, and legs, in multidirectional rolls (not just up and down)!
Focus on your mobility
If you want to work to the best of your ability this year and surpass your goals, you need to train smart and look at every little detail in your workout. One thing that’s often overlooked when training is your mobility – and it’s an area that could lead to injury.
Use your workout day to develop the mobility in your shoulders, hips and ankles, help strengthen your natural rotation, and perfect your movements. There are lots of small exercises you can do here on rest day; for example, use a fitness band wrapped around your foot to pull your ankle up and down and move in circles, or roll a ball under your arm to work that shoulder rotation.
Stretch it all out
After an intense workout, a proper stretch is something we all neglect. Sure, we might cool down and perform a few basic moves to stretch out legs and arms, but we rarely devote a long and thorough workout to it.
Rest day is the ideal time for this, and it will only help further improve your muscle recovery. Even just a solid 10 minutes can really increase your flexibility, opening up your chest, helping you breathe deeply and refreshing your whole body.
Just take a stroll
Lastly, recovery day is a great chance to just take things easy and head out on a casual walk somewhere. If you can, head out into the countryside, relax with the fresh air and the scenery, and enjoy the stroll.
It’ll help fill your lungs with plenty of oxygen – which aids recover – gently stretch those leg muscles, and lengthen fibres in your body.
If you need more help or specific advice on rest day workouts, just speak to one of our personal trainers in the club.