Rest days are essential to proper and effective training. On rest days, you may feel like your slacking or falling behind, but the truth is your not. You’re not going to lose any strength, speed, or gain bad weight just because you’re taking a day or two off. It’s vitally important to take those days off to allow your body to recover and muscles grow. When you have excessive breakdown of your muscle tissue, you’re never giving it time to rebuild itself. Think about how you feel when you get a terrible night of sleep: Your cognitive skills are poor, you crave high-caloric foods because your sleepy brain finds them more appealing and your body also falls into a catabolic (breaking down) state, which can increase overall stress and deplete muscular strength.
The same type of fatigue happens when you are not allowing your body to recover from high-intensity workouts. Never or rarely taking rest days will set your body up for a breakdown. You become more susceptible to a weakened immune system, improper sleeping cycles, intensified muscle soreness, a dramatic decrease in strength and performance, and above all, a higher risk for injury. (Bounce back faster by taking recovery products like Fish Oil or Progenex.) Not only will scheduled rest days help you physically, but mentally it will keep you excited to jump back into your program.
How Often Should I Rest?
If you are new to working out, starting a new exercise program, or are new to CrossFit, try resting every third day (that means, workout two days in a row, then rest the third and repeat). If you’re a more experienced exerciser, you should be taking a rest day every three to four days and perhaps having an active recovery day each week (this can be a day were you stretch, mobilize or do something active with friends). When training or working out, each day should be like the last; intense with a purpose. If you’re coming in to workout on day five in a row and your dragging, sore and not feeling 100% ready to go, your body is telling you it’s time to rest. Take your rest day. In addition, every few months work in a de-load week, or a week where you decrease your load and intensity to allow for further recovery.
What Constitutes “Rest”?
This really depends on how active you have been leading up to your rest day. If you have been in the gym crushing workouts and pushing your body to the limit everyday, then your rest day really should be a complete day off from taxing your body. Rehydrate, eat well, and get a good nights sleep. However, if your workouts have been light to moderate leading up to your rest day or you’re new to exercising, you can have more of an active recovery day. You could go hiking, play a pick up game of basketball, or attend a yoga class.
Don’t think of a rest day as just time for your body to recover and be physically ready for the next workout, but also a time to let your mind take a break. It’s time you can take to help clear your head and prepare your mind to achieve your next goal.
Monday, May 25th is Memorial Day and Mission CrossFit SA will performing the workout “Murph” in honor of Lt. Michael Murphy.
Click here to learn more and register for a drop in.