When you are working out with consistency, rest days are super important. We explain why in our article on 3 Reasons to Take A Rest Day. Although, how to take a rest day isn’t always a simple question. It may seem obvious. For a “rest” day, you simply “rest,” i.e. do nothing. However, doing nothing isn’t always the best answer. So, we are going to explain how to maximize your rest day recovery based on how you feel.
3 Types of Rest Days
There are three primary types of rest days. First, yes, complete rest is sometimes the best thing. Second, you may need some mobility or active recovery. Third is an active rest day.
- Complete Rest: It is true, sometimes, you just need to do nothing. If you are taking a rest day because you are feeling really tired and exhausted, then you need to give you body (likely your central nervous system) time to recover. To do that, complete rest is the best solution. Get a little extra sleep, spend some time on the couch reading or journaling, or you might hang out on a blanket in the park with your dog.
- Mobility and TLC: When you have sore muscles or stiff joints, you need to give your muscles and joints some TLC. You might go through a stretching routine. Go ahead and pull out the foam roller or lacrosse ball to smash those sore muscles. You can even wrap a stiff joint or sore muscles with a heating pad.
- Active Recovery: Are you feeling burned out and unmotivated? Maybe your need for a rest day feels more mental than physical. In these instances, take an active rest day. Go do something fun like riding a bike, hiking, kayaking, or dancing. It is not about a strenuous activity. It is about keeping the body moving while letting your mind relax a little.
Remember, the goal of a rest day is to come back bigger, faster, and stronger to your next workout. Rest days aren’t an exact science. You just need to give yourself a break. You may combine two of the three types of rest days described above into the same day. As long as you feel better tomorrow, you have accomplished the goal.