What do your “rest days” look like? Do your they make you look like you have zero fitness goals? Now I know some of you read that question and tilted your head like a lost puppy. How could I possibly be comparing rest days with fitness goals? Because, we all know fitness doesn’t happen on rest days, right? If you answered, “right.” Then please keep reading. I have some words that you may need to hear. You may have heard us trainers talk about ‘active recovery’ days, and we do so for a reason. We use these days to keep our bodies and even our minds active and in tune with our fitness goals. Let’s be honest, there is no way our bodies can keep up with all out training for an extended period of time. That’s like someone asking an NFL team to be prepared to play in the Super Bowl every week. It’s just not doable. Eventually your body needs a little love.
When I discuss active recovery days with people, I bring up one of my favorite fitness personalities, Mike Boyle. He talks about creating active habits. Those include doing SOMETHING everyday. It doesn’t have to be deadlifts, it doesn’t have to be kettlebell swings or push ups. It could be, working on breathing techniques. It could be doing some of your warm up or mobility work. It could simply be getting on a foam roller and giving your muscles a little love, but DO SOMETHING. When we sit and do nothing, we regress, being sedentary is the world we live in today. We just have to make doing something active a habit, just like the workouts we are trying to recover from. Staying active and reminding your body that it needs to be prepared is the best way to do that.
It is so important to create these active recovery habits if for nothing else, for this one reason. Here I’ll quote Dr. Malcolm from Jurassic Park, “Life finds a way.” This could very well be where you find your active recovery days. So you made a plan to go to the gym but hey guess what, now your child is sick. There’s a chance to get some recovery movements in. Especially with a sick child! Why? Exercise helps increase your immunes systems ability to fight infection. Then your boss calls while your child is sick and needs you to leave town for a couple meetings. Boom, 2 more days we didn’t plan. Or, maybe you had a race, event, or an especially hard training session and you are pretty sore. A day off and being sedentary is not going to help in any scenario. All of these time are perfect to hop on a foam roller, use bands, go for a walk, work on breathing, or do a RAMP just to try and stay active. It just so happens that we have any entire system built just for this and all you would need is a band.
All I’m saying here, is that recovery days don’t and really shouldn’t have to be planned. If you know you aren’t going to lift anything heavy on Wednesday because you lifted heavy stuff on Monday and Tuesday, then take Wednesday to get in some active recovery. Don’t let your body just lay dormant. At the beginning of any program, one where you are trying to create positive lifestyle changes, a rest day of doing nothing can be a huge killer of momentum. Try to prioritize and set as the same time every day for some form of movement whether it’s a work out or active recovery in. It’s the easiest way to build a habit.
There are a million different ways to make your off days or what we like to call active recovery days beneficial for yourself. I only mentioned a few above with foam rollers and bands. But each person is going to be different based on the goals they set for themselves. With all this in mind, what will your next rest day look like? Don’t just lay your goals aside. Be active! I’d love to hear what your favorite active recovery includes!