Rest days are important to maximize the potential of training. Rest allows the body to recover from the stresses of training. This recovery allows the body to adapt and become stronger and better conditioned.
Utilizing certain days for rest gives an additional 24 hours between training sessions. This 24 hours should be used to adequately recover based on certain goals and fitness levels. I make this distinction of goals and fitness level only because it will dictate certain aspects of a rest day.
The first three aspects of a rest day are the same regardless of goals and fitness level:
- Sleep - the largest volume of growth hormones (Human Growth Hormone and Testosterone) are produced. These are important for the body to recover from the stresses of training. Getting a little extra sleep will help the body recover.
- Food - sometimes appetite may lower when the body is not under the stresses of training. Make sure to eat the same amount you would on a training day, and, if possible, at similar times.
- Movement - yes, movement is still needed on a rest day. The body clears inflammation via movement and elevated heart rate. So find time to walk around for about 30 minutes.
For those who train a full 6 days a week or train competitively, rest days will possibly include:
- Small Workouts - utilizing small workouts to contract musculature will assist in clearing inflammation without creating large amounts of fatigue.
- Additional food - depending on how your body feels, you may need a little bit more food to provide the calories to adequately recover. If sleep quality, focus levels, and training energy levels are low, a slight increase in food on the rest day may be needed.
Again, regardless of goals or fitness level, sleep, food, and movement are what a rest day should look like.
Above all, make sure you enjoy the day. Spend some time away from your weekly duties, doing things you enjoy, with people you enjoy. Get a little sunlight on your skin, and have a great day!