Your rest days are just as important as your days in the gym. If you workout 7 days straight without break (and you’re not working with Olympic trainers), then you stand the chance of undoing all the hard work you put in at the gym or wherever you workout. You might also become more prone to injury and muscle fatigue if you don’t work in rest days into your fitness routine.
The more frequently you workout and the more strenuous your exercises, the more rest your body needs to actually recover. Exercise is literally breaking down your muscles and building up stronger ones. And rest is essential to allow that process to happen. However, there are ways to make the most of your rest days other than sitting still all day. Keep reading for 4 active recovery ideas to add to your weekly routine.
1. Foam Roll
Foam rolling may just seem like a quick cool-down activity but an extended session of foam rolling can do wonders for your achy muscles and muscle recovery. If you have 20 minutes and a foam roller, you can get some serious relief all over your body. It’s best to use the roller as slowly as possible and roll your body back and forth across the roller.
Be sure to hit major muscles like your quadriceps (front of thighs), hamstrings (back of thighs), IT bands (in your outer thighs) and your glutes. You’ll be surprised at how much tension you may be holding in these areas.
For smaller muscles like shoulders and parts of the back, you can get the same release with a lacrosse or tennis ball against a wall. Spend at least 3 minutes on each muscle group and practice deep cleansing breathes for the best results.
2. Practice Yoga
Certain yoga modalities can be intense workouts, but when performing yoga on your rest day, you should go for a light flow, rather than a strenuous yoga session. For rest days and recovery, choose a Yin or Restorative yoga flow. You’ll want to avoid yoga classes like Bikram or Vinyasa, as these are more intense and won’t allow your muscles to recover.
The goal with your recovery yoga is to relax, focus on breathing, and increase flexibility. Gym goers and athletes alike have found that incorporating a yoga practice into their weekly routines has helped them perform better and get better results from their workouts. If it works for them, why shouldn’t it do the same for you?
3. Go For a Walk
There is never, ever a bad time to go for a walk, and that includes your rest days. A great way to flush out lactic acid, and reduce muscle soreness is to