Written by Jack Boardman
Gym Rest Days
Whether you’re on day one of your workout week and you’re already dreaming of a day off, or you’re hardcore and a rest day is out of the question, there is a question of whether you need to factor in breaks as a part of your routine.
The simple answer is yes, you do need to keep rest in mind even when you’ve got the unstoppable motivation to commit serious hours to the gym. Your body requires the right rest and nutrition in order to heal and grow.
What do you need from your rest day? If you absolutely have to tear yourself away from lifting, what is it that has to happen on your day off?
In lifting weights, running, twisting and reaching you’ve been tearing and breaking down your muscles. Without taking a rest day, your body turns to breakdown mode – something that may eventually catch up to you in the form of a lacklustre workout, demotivation, stress, malnutrition or injury. Rest allows the recovery your muscles need to strengthen and, in doing so, be able to lift heavier weights and achieve more reps and gains.
Your growth hormones are highest when you sleep. For weightlifters and bodybuilders, the growth that you’re striving for will only come during the rest following a workout.
If you’re new to an exercise it is recommended that you train two days in a row and rest on the third. Seasoned weightlifters should find a place for a full rest day in which you fully recover. As well as this, up to two months at a time full-time body builders should schedule a full week in which you lower the amount of weight you lift for each exercise. Rest days needn’t be a hindrance and may be used tactically.
You need to refuel and make sure you are eating and taking in the nutrients that your body needs. Whereas some people avoid carbs and fats on rest days, remember that your body still needs these for recovery along with vitamins.
By now you know the importance of the building blocks that is protein in its many forms, but even though you may associate protein with exercising, keep in mind that rest days are when your muscles are healing and rebuilding – precisely when you’ll be needing that protein.
To maintain a positive nitrogen balance, as a weightlifter you ought to ingest one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight.
Many people feel they are being lazy or lethargic on their days off from the gym. Make it a part of a bigger picture. You will not lose progress or performance ability during a rest day. It will take over a week of inactivity before this will affect you. A day or two away from lifting will not set you back.
In terms of motivation, you may only be thinking in physical terms but a rest day can help your stress management and mental capacity. Think there’s no thinking involved in the gym? Wrong: having the emotional capacity to handle those gruelling exercises is as important as ensuring your arms and legs aren’t too tight. A solid sleep pattern has been proven to enhance performance, and when it comes to routine you don’t want to burn out mentally. Furthermore, taking a change in scenery will keep you from feeling fed up with your gym surroundings so that you can return anew with the drive that you need to get back to it.