If you’re super motivated to achieve your fitness goals, the urge to exercise everyday is all too tempting. Heck, you may even be considering hitting the gym twice a day if that date to hit your fitness goal is fast approaching.
Before you do, consider the saying, ‘too much of a good thing’, which is exactly the case when it comes to exercise. In fact, ensuring you have a rest day is equally important as training – they are an essential part of the equation when it comes to your fitness! This is because exercise can cause microscopic tears in muscle tissue, putting you at increased risk of injury (when you don’t prioritise recovery), and deplete your muscles of glycogen (your body’s preferred energy source). Without rest days, you prevent optimal workout recovery and may feel less energised to take on your next week’s worth of training. Ultimately, this could stall your fitness progress, or worse, reverse it. So, to prevent this from happening, here’s our top tips to optimise your rest days.
Find out how much recovery time you actually need
Depending on the type of workouts you’ve been doing and where you are in your fitness journey, aim to have one rest day every 7-10 days1. However, did you know, your DNA can actually help you get even more specific than this? With our Personalised Wellness Test, find out if you have a slow, standard or fast recovery profile. With this knowledge, you can decide when and how you tailor rest days with your workouts. For example, if you’re a slow or standard recovery profile, you may need up to two days between heavy training sessions of the same body part. Additionally, you may find it beneficial to alternate training across different parts of your body on different days to reduce impact. Alternatively, if you have a fast recovery profile, you may find you can train every day if you wanted to. If this is you, your genes mean you don’t need a lot of time to recover after an intense workout – you could train hard most days of the week if you wanted to!
Try light movement
After an intense workout, you may be feeling pretty sore and it can be tempting to not do anything on your rest days. However, research suggests that light movement, such as walking, stretching, yoga or cycling, can actually help reduce muscle soreness2. How? By helping pump blood to your muscles, which brings nutrients for muscle repair and assists with the removal of metabolic waste products. To get the most out of your recovery days, you could also try foam rolling straight after your light movement activity, which may help to decrease feelings of soreness.
Adopt a holistic approach to fitness
Fitness isn’t just about exercising and recovery. You also need to ensure you’re looking after your body in other ways to get the most out of your workouts and achieve your fitness goals. Other areas to think about for your rest days (and all days of the week!) include nutrition and sleep.
A post workout snack with both protein and carbs straight after your workout will help kickstart your recovery, but what exactly should you eat on your rest days?
Eating a balanced diet with plenty of protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats are a great way to fuel post workout recovery and help reduce the inflammation created from training3. Aim for 20-30g protein regularly throughout the day from a variety of sources and focus on wholegrains, root vegetables and fruits for your complex carbs. In terms of fats, try oily fish, nuts and seeds, and Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Getting your nutrition right can help ensure your recover properly between workouts, helping your body to be in better shape when it comes to your next workout.
Did you know, your DNA can influence the way you absorb and process certain vitamins and minerals? Additionally, you may need to prioritise certain macronutrients (carbs, fat and protein) to combat your genetic predisposition to appetite and weight. Order a Personalised Wellness Kit and take the test to find out how to tailor your diet to your DNA.
During sleep, our bodies release a hormone called human growth hormone (hGH), which stimulates tissue growth and helps repair muscles, tendons and ligaments4. Additionally, sleep enhances protein synthesis, essential for muscle repair and growth. It’s also a time when our bodies release another hormone called prolactin, a hormone that helps to keep muscle inflammation in check. To ensure you are getting adequate sleep, aim for 7-8 hours per night, or more if your workouts are especially strenuous!
To optimise your sleep regime, take our Personalised Wellness Test to find out your genetic predispositions to sleep.
Rest days are important for your fitness and health. So, remember to listen to your body and not overtrain yourself! Fitness is a journey and unique to everyone. To help achieve your fitness goals, order a myDNA Personalised Wellness Test to make more informed decisions based on your body’s unique DNA.