Updated: Jan 17, 2022
Everybody knows that fitness is hard. Many people struggle to get themselves into the gym and work hard on their bodies every day. It requires a ton of mental strength that many people simply don't have.
However while may do find it hard to get into the training grounds and work out, many of us who enjoy spending our time there find it hard to keep ourselves out of the gym and give our bodies a break.
And while yes, rest days can be boring and sometimes even dreaded, we have to take them. They're vital for us to take if we want to ensure that we can make long term progress and actually want to reach our fitness goals.
If you currently feel like your rest days are unproductive and you could be doing more with all that extra time, we've compiled a list of the 6 easiest ways you can make the most out of your rest days!
How To Make the Most of Your Rest Day
Get More Sleep
When we work out intensely, we cause damage to out bodies that needs to be repaired in order for us to come back bigger and stronger.
Contrary to popular belief, muscles actually grow when we rest and allow them to recover. They don't grow while we're hammering away at them in the gym.
You see, when we work out we cause microtears and damage to our muscle fibers. This damage then has to be repaired through recovery, and our muscles will come back bigger and stronger so that the next time we perform that exercise at the same intensity, it won't be as challenging.
Getting more sleep allows our bodies to get some rest and restore some of the energy that we expended during our workout and throughout the day.
If we constantly have no energy, we won't be able to train as hard and we'll limit our gains in the gym, whatever exercise we're doing. Whether you're a runner, a bodybuilder or a powerlifter, constantly feeling tired is going to have a huge and negative impact on your ability to train hard and make progress.
Seeping more will also give your mind a break from all the hard work you're doing and allow you to continue to push hard in upcoming sessions.
It can help us feel more motivated heading into our workouts and make the time we spend in the gym more enjoyable, which is always a bonus to have. You certainly don't want to head into the gym feeling like you don't want to be there.
There are several more benefits to getting more sleep, but we'll leave it at that for this article. The point is, you should look to get more sleep. Unless you're already getting 8 or 9 hours a night, it's more than likely that you'd benefit from an extra little bit on your rest day.
It helps you feel better during the day and helps you to train more efficient in future sessions, which will ultimately allow you to make more gains in the same amount of time. Definitely an easy way for us to maximize our rest days.
Even though you're physically not doing too much work, you can still take the time to educate yourself and become the smartest lifter or athlete that you can be.
You can do this by reading educational blogs, watching YouTube videos, reading through places like Quora where people ask and answer questions, and so on.
You could simply take the time to sit down and consume content that's going to help you understand a concept in fitness better or help you train even more efficiently and drive more gains.
For example, you could check out the rest of our blog, which has lots of helpful articles like this one written to educate you about your fitness journey.
Or you could check out some of the educational fitness YouTubers and TikTokers who dedicate most of their content towards helping us learn more about what we're doing.
There are loads of them! We'll leave you with a couple favorites down below.
There are many more of them, but those are some of our favorites for you to learn from!
Taking the time to further educate yourself on your rest day is one of the best ways that you can ensure it's as productive as possible and that you're using your time wisely.
Do Some Stretching and Mobility Work
On your rest day, you could look to do some stretching and mobility work to further develop your athleticism without causing any additional stress to the body.
You should look to do some static stretching, some foam rolling and some mobility exercises. Doing this will help you increase your flexibility, which helps with increasing range of motion in certain exercises.
This is going to help you build more muscle by moving the weight through a longer range of motion and getting a better stretch/contraction on the muscles.
Increasing your flexibility and mobility is also going to help you reduce your chances of injury. For example, many people injure their hip adductors doing sumo deadlifts. They simply don't have the flexibility in them to getting into that position and lifting heavy loads.
Not only would having more flexibility allow them to perform this movement more efficiently, it would help them reduce the chances of injury by not placing as much of a stretch on their muscles.
Stretching and foam rolling can also help to alleviate some of the muscle pain and tightness that you're likely to wake up with after an intense lifting session. This is going to help you feel better throughout the day and also reduce the chances of you heading into the gym the following day still feeling sore.
Definitely look to do some stretching and mobility work on your rest day if you want to be as productive as possible.
Do Some Active Recovery
Active recovery is one of the best ways that you can maximize your rest days and really help yourself recover after a tough workout.
Active recovery has several benefits, but we'll leave you with a short list of a couple below.
Reduce buildup of lactic acid in your muscles
increases blood flow
help you maintain some kind of exercise
can help to reduce muscle soreness
Generally, unless you're injured or have a very specific reason to be completely resting, active recovery is considered the better option over complete inactivity on your rest day.
Active recovery is usually done with low impact exercises and at a very low intensity. Less than 50% of your maximal efforts. This helps to minimize the additional stress placed on the body while allowing it to recover more efficiently and quickly.
Simply just doing this for 30-45 minutes on your rest day is enough. You could do anything that's low impact such as cycling, walking, swimming, yoga or stretching/foam rolling like we mentioned above.
This is a great way that we can ensure we're staying productive on our rest days and setting ourselves up to make more gains in the future.
Have Plenty to Eat and Drink
Everybody knows that our bodies need food and water to function properly. Our body needs energy to get through our everyday tasks and for us to feel good throughout the day.
This is going to primarily come from the food that we eat.
Eating more on your rest day will have an impact on your energy levels and mood the next day, which is presumably a training day. Who doesn't want to feel more energized during their workout?
Eating more protein is also going to help our muscles recover more efficiently and come back bigger and stronger. Ensuring that we get enough protein is one of the best ways to maximize gains, even on rest days.
Like we said earlier, our muscles don't grow while we're working them in the gym. They grow when we allow them to rest and give them the right nutrients. getting enough protein in is going to help us grow the most and get the best results for our hard work in the gym.
Also, you need to drink more water as it acts as a lubricant for our muscles. Drinking enough water is not only going to further help us feel energized, but it'll also help us reduce muscle cramps and muscle soreness
Our muscles are made up of approximately 76% water. It should stand to reason that if we want them to be healthy and strong, we need to be giving them enough water to work with.
Simply being careful of what you eat and drink is a great way to further boost productivity on our rest days.
Do Something That You Enjoy
Lastly, just do something that you enjoy doing.
Whether this is reading a book, going to relax at the beach, bowling or something else, it's all the same. Just do something that makes you happy and helps clear your mind from all the hard work that you're doing.
Taking the time to enjoy yourself on your rest day is going to allow you to head back into the gym (and other areas of life too!) feeling as refreshed and ready to work as possible.
There's no doubt that you work better and get better results when you enjoy what you're doing and are happy.
Taking the time to do something you enjoy on your rest day is a great way that you can ensure you're feeling good going into your workout and can get the best results possible!
Wrapping It Up
Rest days can be boring. They can be hard to sit through.
However if you just pick a couple of these 6 things that you can do, you can maximize the effectiveness of them and stay productive, even when you're not really doing any additional work.
Rest days should be enjoyable. They should allow you to clear your mind from all the hard work that you're doing and serve as a refresher, getting you ready to continue pushing hard in the near future.
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We're trying to help as many as possible reach their fitness goals!