As a Free Athlete, you’re reaping the benefits of a healthy lifestyle on a daily basis. People who exercise frequently often find that they have surplus energy and want to train even more. Sometimes, it can be tempting to do more than your scheduled program, but rest is important and shouldn't be neglected. Training expert Florian Nock explains how to make the most of your rest days in order to enhance your training and to help you thrive on your journey.
Rest is part of the process.
You see that your performance is improving; you're getting healthier, faster and stronger. It's therefore very tempting to add another unplanned training session to your weekly routine to capitalize on this upward progression. In the short term, it could well be beneficial, but as you're here for the long-term, it's maybe not the best strategy. Overtraining can lead to injury and add unnecessary stress. Regarding health and fitness, there are three key components of progress: exercise, nutrition and rest. Whether you feel very energetic and want to do more or you feel sore from your last training session, you should embrace those rest days and use them to your advantage.
#1: Walk it off
Steady cardio is an excellent way to stay active, activate blood flow and burn calories. Walking is amongst the best activities to do on a rest day (or every day, in fact). Forty minutes of walking can burn up to 150 calories and activate your legs and core muscle without taxing your nervous system. Walking is also a calming and simple activity to clear your mind.
#2: Improve your technique
Even though perfect form is necessary for safety and performance, it can be challenging to focus on execution whilst pushing for your new PB. Do you always activate your core? Do you retract your scapula when necessary? Use your rest days to get back to the basics; practice really does make perfect. Perhaps even record your movements with a camera so you can see exactly how well you perform.
#3: Treat yourself
There are many different tools for myofascial release, the most common of which is foam rolling. When pressure is applied on your trigger points, it will relieve your muscle knots and help you recover faster and improve your muscle elasticity. When done on a rest day, you can take your time and go slow and deep to release all your tension and increase your mobility. So roll on and discover the multiple benefits of foam rolling.
#4: Plan ahead
When you come home after a long day of work and a strenuous workout, spending extra time cooking a healthy meal can sometimes seem like an effort not worth making. Why not use your rest day to prepare some healthy meals in advance? Dedicating time to go to the store and cook meals whilst you’re full of energy will give you the chance to have a wonderful meal already waiting for you on “those” days.
#5: Have fun!
Enjoy your life! You worked hard, followed your diet and you deserve a break. Use your rest day to see your friends, call your family, read a book or listen to music. There are different kinds of stress, life can be challenging, so when your eustress turns to distress; breath, relax, smile and give back.
Rest is a key part of the training process; view it as an opportunity to replenish your batteries. It’s not a stepback, but time to gain momentum to jump further. Life can be challenging, so taking care of you during your rest day is an occasion to sharpen your sword and be ready to attack your next workout more vigorously. Having a day off is the appropriate moment to adjust your sails to help you reach your destination.