I get this question all the time about rest and recovery days and whether we really need them. Here’s my take on it:
On my way to the gym the other afternoon I had it all planned out – yep, I was in perfect sweat anticipating, heart pounding “beast mode”.
I had packed up my Gymboss interval timer, my jump rope, my Booty Sliders and had selected the Kettlebells I would use for my calorie blasting – total body workout! But as I stepped into the aerobics room to set up my “gauntlet” of exercises – I pulled out my rope and started to skip, but my usual skipping mojo was nowhere to be found.
So I decided maybe I just needed to warm up on the bike for a few minutes, assuming my legs were just tired from a couple of soft sand beach runs over the past few days. I pulled out my Ipad and began to settle into my latest read, “ahhh this is better” I thought, but as I pedaled on for a few minutes I noticed my legs just felt like sludge. UGH! Ok fine, I switched to the Eliptical (my old faithful) but alas that was a no-go too!
What’s going on here? Oh that! My body was sending me a very loud signal, which said, “Uh- hello lady –remember me – your body – your so called temple – it’s been way too many days without a rest day and I am done! Finito. You’re not getting another workout out of me until I RECOVER! REST! REJUVENATE! – You dig?” Ok, yep, I got it. I listened and instead headed home to start this blog!
I won’t beat around the bush here, I am a self proclaimed “fitness junkie”. I love and need my daily dose of Endorphins.
I need to feel the sweat dripping off my face as I workout, I need to hear my breath become labored as I push myself beyond my comfort zone. I get off on it! So, it’s true, I push myself very hard in my workouts and really have to force myself to take true “rest days”.
I know we all love our endorphin highs, but we need to remember to honor our bodies so they can continue to do what they do for us over the long haul. If our bodies truly are our “temples” then we do need to treat them as such.
Rest and recovery days are the gifts we can give back to our bodies so they can refresh and restore energy and fluid stores as well as rebuild and repair muscles. Also, the body truly needs the rest from all the stress and tension that repetitive training can put on the joints and ligaments.
There is also question of the type of rest day to take – “passive” OR “active”. “Passive” rest is zero physical activity, this is usually what bodybuilders or very high-level athletes do as they are pushing their bodies to their limits in every single workout. Or even people new to fitness as their bodies are just acclimating to the idea of exercise and in these scenarios rest days are critical. This is a great day to get a massage, (check out this great article at HuffPost about the benefits of massage) get in the sauna or just get some extra sleep!
The other option is “active” rest, which is lighter activity done at a low intensity, such as cardio i.e., the Bike, Elliptical (on easy resistance) light yoga, or an easy walk. You can still move the body – just not at the same level as you would in your typical weight training, HIIT training or sports training routine.
One final thought to consider about rest and recovery, should you schedule these days? I know some people prefer to plan their schedules in advance and rest on given days each week. If that works for you – fantastic, but I have found that sometimes on the day that I scheduled to rest my body, it is simply raring to go and no fine print in my calendar will keep a good body down.
So what I do and what I encourage all my clients to do is listen to your bodies, our bodies are very wise, they really will tell you when enough is enough. The trick here is to be sure to listen. Tune in to tune up!
Rest and Recovery – yes, they do a body good!
Move More. Eat Better. Forgive Often.
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