What is a Recovery Day and Why is it Important?
At MoFitness, we know that you need to work hard to see results, you need to be committed to your goals and stay consistent through the process. We know that pushing your limits will create change but that you need to do it safely, progress steadily, and learn to rest when you need it. We also know that the fitness industry likes to tell you to go hard or go home, no pain no gain, and all that; and while there is a grain of truth to that, it does not mean you should be working out at maximum intensity 7 days a week and ignoring things that make you hurt.
What is the optimal weekly workout schedule?
First let’s discuss the optimal schedule for exercise; there is no one size fits all here. It will largely depend on your goals, your physical state/injuries, whether you are a beginner or advanced, and what your time constraints look like. However, the general recommendation is that you need 150 active minutes each week and that you should aim for 2-5 strength training days, and 3 cardio days per week depending on your fitness level. You should give your muscles about 48 hours of recovery, so you don’t want to do leg day 2 days in a row. Your cardio can be done on the same day as strength training and can be mixed into a strength training routine. For example, Kettlebell swings can be a cardiovascular exercise if you do enough reps to get your heart rate up. Lastly, you need 2 recovery days per week, and those days can be active recovery days or just plain old Netflix and nothing kind of days.
Why Are Recovery Days Important?
Recovery days are both mentally and physically integral to a balanced fitness regimen and overall lifestyle. Giving 110% everyday will certainly drain you, making you less likely to stick with your plan and much more likely to take extended fitness breaks to recharge. Scheduling in recovery days each week makes it much easier to get your workouts done when you know that tomorrow, you get to be a couch potato. However, you should keep your weekly workout plan somewhat fluid; if you are too sore to hit the gym, or feel overwhelmed, or burnt out; have an unscheduled rest day and appreciate every minute of it. Not only are recovery days essential but they are also supremely beneficial.
Rest Days Prevent Fatigue and Injury
If you are concerned that by taking a rest, you won’t be making gains, you could not be more wrong. Your muscles need time to rebuild. When you strength train, you create microscopic tears in your muscle tissue; the process of getting stronger is the breaking and repairing of your muscle tissue. Your muscles also use glycogen to fuel your workouts, during rest days, your muscles replenish their glycogen stores giving you more fuel for future training days. If you don’t give your muscles adequate time to recover you’ll end up over training your muscle groups which leads to injury and burnout. You are more likely to get injured if you overtrain because when your muscles are tired you are more likely to lose your form, compensate with the wrong muscles/joints or make a mistake.
Rest Days Are Mental Health Days
Sticking to a training regimen is not only physically demanding, but also mentally challenging. Maintaining the willpower to get to the gym, to do your best each time is exhausting. Some days our motivation can hit rock bottom and that is totally normal. It’s perfectly acceptable to say, “today I just can’t”. The key here is to make sure you don’t have too many “can’t” days in a row, making it a weekly habit. Motivation comes and goes, the key to success in fitness training is to be consistent with your practice. We all need days at the spa, days on the couch, days having coffee and cake with friends, and you should never feel guilty about those days. Those days keep our life balanced between our responsibilities and leisure time and make the grind worth it.
Rest Days help you Enjoy Exercise More
Forcing yourself to exercise every day will certainly lead to resentment after awhile. You’ll get bored and won’t leave yourself much time to explore new things. Rest days can free up time to discover new ways of moving that you might enjoy. Rest days also give you perspective on why you workout in the first place. After all, “absence makes the heart grow fonder”.
What Does a Recovery Day Look Like?
Recovery or Rest Days can be anything that gives your body and mind time to regenerate. Sitting on the couch watching movies is a totally acceptable rest day if that’s what you need. If you need some time in nature, taking a light hike or going for a leisurely bike ride, playing with your kids, is all a perfectly perfect way to spend your rest day.
Getting a massage? You bet!
Eating your weight in tacos? Certainly delicious, but not highly recommended.
Doing a gentle Yoga class? Absolutely. We even have a class for that! Check out Flow & Yin on Saturday at 4pm.
Laying by the pool? Yes indeed
Meditating? Most definitely!
Watching 3 seasons on Netflix and eating snacks? Yup, just maybe take some stretch breaks and snack responsibly.
You get the point. Almost anything can be a recovery day as long as it feels good and you are enjoying yourself. Sometimes active recovery is what you need and sometimes, actively avoiding movement is your main goal for the day. Either works. Personally I aim to have 1 active recovery day and 1 “lazy” day….On my lazy day I usually do groceries and some meal prepping for the week.
It’s 2022 and we are finally starting to learn that we can’t do it all, we have to give ourselves a break now and then and not feel guilty about it. Because “time you enjoy wasting is not time wasted”. -John Lennon.