It is OK to take a day off, actually you NEED to….and there is no need to feel bad about it. Skipping a workout will actually help you reach your goals, and reach them safely.
Recovery is important. That is pretty obvious. But how important? How should you tackle recovery and rest?
Have you ever woken up, all cozy in your bed the day after a workout or two days after a workout and just felt like “HOLY SHIT I can’t move, every single part of me hurts!!” Yup- been there! It definitely sucks, but it does mean that you really worked your body hard and you can’t see changes without challenging yourself (which will usually result in feeling sore). So way to go! But now, take the right steps to make sure you stay healthy….
When days like those come up, I usually decide to take a rest day…or an active rest day. An active rest day is when you skip a real workout and do something light instead, like a light hike or do more walking so you are staying active, but taking it easy at the same time.
Cycling in rest days is imperative to any fitness plan. At least once a week, I devote one day to just chill, to take it easy and let my body repair itself- if you do this, your body will benefit from it and perform better next time around. Your muscles will repair and you will be fresh and ready to go for your next workout.
Skipping a rest day takes away your opportunity to help your body keep up with itself- if you keep working out without a chance to properly recover, your body will be in a constant state of playing catch up. That is no way to live!
And, maybe most importantly, if you choose to forgo a rest day, you risk a greater chance of getting an injury. Especially if you do high impact activities like running and HIIT, which often includes jumping and lots of pounding movements. Movements like this can be tough on your body and joints, and you really should take a lot of time to mobilize, foam roll and stretch. If you do these types of exercises, make your rest days a chance to loosen everything up- maybe even get a massage! You deserve it!
For me- it is sometimes hard to go “ok, today I am just going to rest…I will skip a workout”….because I am such a go-go person and constantly want a challenge. But that’s when I will go for a long walk with Puffin or take a light stretchy yoga class instead for the chance to loosen up my tight muscles and help my body shake off that stiff feeling.
I try to time out my rest days well too– I don’t decide to take a rest day on a day when I have nothing going on. That would drive me crazy! I like to have things to do, so I take my rest days on those crazy busy days- which are usually the days I don’t want to workout anyway!!
If you are the type of person who LOVES a rest day- go for it! This is your time to enjoy a day or two off!
Another thing I do on a rest day is adjust my eating habits slightly. On rest days, I am not burning as many calories as I am on days when I workout….so I adjust accordingly. Nothing extreme..but I will skip a protein shake or a mid day snack, just to keep myself in check.
Whether you are an elite athlete, a fitness junkie like me, or trying to change your lifestyle habits- don’t skip a rest and recovery day. Every training program needs rest incorporated in. Reach your goals and stay healthy!