We know what you’re probably thinking when you read the above headline. Do? Rest Day? The whole point of a rest day is to, ya know…rest! That’s entirely true, but there are some things you can do to optimize said rest so it does the most for your body. What you eat and how you support your body on off days can help bolster every cardio or lifting session. Don’t stress, though, because these rest day activities are easy to integrate into your off days and don’t require a ton of time or effort. Let’s take a look at An Athlete’s Guide:
An Athlete’s Guide to do things on their rest day
- Harness the Recovery Power of CBD Oil — One of the best-kept secrets to An Athlete’s Guide is the use of CBD oil for muscle recovery. CBD — a non-psychoactive compound derived from the hemp plant — helps facilitate faster muscle recovery by targeting inflammation. It can also help you relax in the post-workout period so you get a good night’s sleep and make it a productive (or not) rest day. Try using a CBD topical and giving your muscles a gentle massage.
- Get Your RDA of Water and Then Some —When you exercise, the body uses up all the reserve fluids it has been storing, and that’s a good thing. The H2O in your system helps regulate body temperature and lubricates your joints for support while working out. On the off days, water helps replenish your reserves by assisting pretty much all of the body’s most crucial functions. Your recommended daily water intake will depend on a few things, but in general, a good rule of thumb is 3.7 liters (15.5 cups) for men and 2.7 liters (11.5 cups) for women. On rest days, aim for your RDA plus a little extra for good measure.
- Heal Muscles with Ample Protein — Protein shakes aren’t just for chugging post-workout. In truth, you need plenty of this essential nutrient on your rest days, too. The body builds bulk by creating microscopic tears in the muscle tissue and then rebuilding it bigger. To do this, it needs lots of protein. They say proteins are the building blocks of muscle mass, so make sure you get ample protein in the p.m. before your rest day and in the a.m. when you wake up.
- Sweeten It Up with Tart Cherry Juice — Who knew downing some fruit juice could help reduce post-exercise inflammation and delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS)? You can get tart cherry juice at the grocery store in the fruit juice aisle or take it as a supplement in pill or powder form. This is because cherries are high in antioxidants and can help reverse exercise-induced oxidative damage. Pretty much any antioxidant-rich fruits — blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc. — are great for working into your rest day regimen.
- Do Your Best to Eat Clean — As tempting as it is, don’t schedule your cheat day and your rest day on the same day. While doing this once a week probably won’t set you back terribly, it may make you feel bad about yourself or contribute to feelings of failure. The best course of action is to eat clean on your rest days — this will help you build up those muscles and replenish vital nutrients — and to save your cheat meals for after workouts on your non-rest days.
- Work in Gentle, Low-Impact Exercise — We’re talkin’ a leisurely bike ride, a restorative yoga session or even a slow-paced walk through your neighborhood. Rest days shouldn’t equate to you lying on the couch or staying in bed for a 24-hour period (though some of that is essential). Active recovery days should involve low-impact movement or stretching exercises to help keep muscles engaged and contribute to good cardiovascular health.
- Get a Good Night’s Sleep — We probably don’t have to tell you why sleep is literally vital to good health, but you might not know how especially clutch it is for maximizing your exercise efforts. Getting enough high-quality snooze time in helps the body replenish its energy reserves so you wake up refreshed and want to get back to your routine right away. Sleep time is also the time when your body releases growth hormones, which means it’s crucial to helping your muscles bulk up and to keeping your athletic performance at its peak the next day.
- Massage Away the Tension in Your Muscles —What better way to soak up all that sweet, sweet rest time than with a therapeutic massage? When your muscles are sore and your body aches, a massage can help by releasing tightness of the muscles and improving blood flow. The great thing is, you can enjoy the benefits of a good rub-down at home or the spa. Try using a deep muscle massager at home. A massage with a massager will also help you wind down and get a good night’s rest before you get back to it.
- Remember to Actually Rest — Actual rest is good for you. By “actual rest,” we mean sleeping in, binge-watching TV for a few hours or doing whatever you do to unwind and recuperate after a stressful or demanding couple of days. Not only will this help your muscles restore themselves quicker and soften up tense muscles, but it will also put you in an overall happier state of mind, which will help ensure that you get back to your routine with a positive attitude.
See? Getting the most of your rest days doesn’t have to involve a ton of hard work or physical effort. In truth, optimizing down time is really just about paying attention to what you eat and doing everything you can to facilitate muscle recovery. Simply being mindful of what you consume and how you spend your time will ensure that you maximize your rest days to reach your full potential. We hope that this An Athlete’s Guide was helpful to you.