Everyone’s needs for rest are different, and finding the sweet spot for the perfect amount of workout recovery can be a challenge. It’s easy to find one-sized-fits-all guidelines, but it’s worth it to slow down and listen to your body to find out how much (and what kind of) recovery you need. Remember—the truth about exercise is that you don’t make changes in your body when you work out—you make progress when you recover from the workout! Here, we share a few ways to find your personal workout recovery solution.
There are so many factors that impact how many rest days an individual needs, from nutrition and hydration to general fitness level and, yes, genetics. If someone you know is able to slam through 6 workouts a week without getting wiped out or injured, they may be facing a completely different set of lifestyle factors.
Another factor to take into consideration when deciding on your rest day needs is what kind of workout you’re doing. Heavy lifting will challenge your body differently than running or cycling long distances. The day after a workout, check in with your body—are you having joint pain? Are you exhausted at work? Are you getting repetitive motion pains in certain places from doing the same motion over and over? Are you aggravating any old injuries or imbalances? If you’re experiencing pain beyond the “good” soreness that comes with working your body, it’s important to take more time to recovery—that way you can safely strengthen your body without reinjuring yourself.
Recovery does not mean not moving at all! Moving your body in gentle ways—called “active recovery”—can ease muscle soreness, increase blood flow, and can actually help your body recover faster than doing nothing at all. Try a gentle yoga class or an easy walk on your next “off” day and see how you feel. Foam rolling and stretching are also great activities for active recovery.
On the flip side, it’s totally okay to workout every day—or even more often—if your body (and mind!) is up for the challenge and know how to mix your workouts correctly. Easy or moderate activities like walking, swimming, cycling, or yoga can be a great complement to harder pushes or intense strength circuits. If you’re going to try training more than you’re used to, it’s so important to eat more and drink more water to support your system—and be sure to take a recovery day if you do two intense workouts in one day.
Honest trainers believe in educating every one of our clients about body awareness, which includes knowing when to challenge yourself and when to rest—but also to know yourself well enough to realize when you are making an excuse not to work out! Moving every day is important for every aspect of health, and the the bottom line is that it’s important not to judge yourself for taking the time that your body needs. You are giving yourself such a gift by being active, and life is not a race to the finish line! As long as you stay committed to working out when your body is ready, you will see results. Want to learn more about your own body’s needs for rest, recovery, and ass-kicking workouts? Schedule a free consultation with our trainers—you don’t have to go it alone!