Why Should You Take a Rest Day?

Incorporating a rest day after exercise is essential to achieving performance goals, weight-loss or weight-gain goals, improving energy, sleep and much, much more. But, make sure it’s about recovery…not just rest.

What is a Rest Day?

A rest day is when the body repairs, rebuilds and strengthens itself in the time between workout days. Incorporating recovery time is important because this is the time that our bodies adapt to the stress of exercise; and allows our body to replenish energy stores and repair damaged tissues.

What Happens During a Rest Day?

Sometimes we take on a: “I must work out every day” mindset and completely forget that one of the most important parts of exercising effectively is giving our bodies time to recover.

But, continuous training can actually make us weaker, and increase the chance for injury. Exercise or any other physical work creates stress on the body such as:

  • Metabolic stress that comes from depleting the energy stored in individual muscle cells (muscle glycogen)
  • Mechanical stress created by physical damage to the structures of muscle proteins (muscle tissue breakdown)
  • Fluid loss
  • Even mental fatigue (that can lead to burnout)

That’s why we want to give our muscles (and our mind) a chance to come back stronger through recovery strategies.

A rest day allows tissue repair to occur.

Without enough time to repair and replenish, our body will continue to breakdown from exercise. This can lead to overtraining.

Signs of Overtraining

A common mistake of those new to exercise, and even among the experienced athletes, is to workout too hard, too long… too often. They feel guilty about taking a day off, as if they were to lose momentum, and end up over-training in the process.

Overtraining often occurs from a lack of recovery time.

Signs of overtraining include:

  • Feeling fatigued (more than usual)
  • Experiencing a lack of motivation to exercise
  • Feeling unmotivated to be active throughout the day
  • Noticing a decrease in performance
  • Experiencing unexplained weight loss/weight gain
  • Noticing the first stages of a nagging injury
  • And, if we were able to look at someone’s insides, we might also notice that their inflammatory markers are elevated, their connective tissues aren’t healing and their hormones are going haywire (ex: cortisol going up).

In short, lack of recovery can have wide-ranging effects. When it comes to exercise, sometimes less is more.

Your Ideal Rest Day Should Be an Active Recovery Day

Rest day should really be more like an active recovery day. The point is to do some sort of movement that is less intense than your regular workout days, but encourages blood flow.

Why?

  • Moving your body at a lower intensity will help boost recovery rates from your previous workouts by encouraging blood flow to your muscles and tissues.
  • That added circulation also helps deliver nutrients (like amino acids and oxygen) to muscles to aid in repair.
  • Active recovery is also helpful to flush out waste products (like lactic acid and hydrogen ions) that have built up during your workouts and are known to contribute to muscle damage, fatigue and delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
  • On top of all that, active recovery days offer a refreshing mental break from intense training.

Plan Your Recovery Day

Then, the question becomes, what should you do on an active recovery day.

A recovery day should be planned like a training day. It’s not a day to lounge on the couch all day. Think of it more like an active recovery day.

That could be any activity that is relaxing and energizing and that is parasympathetic dominant (often referred to as “rest and digest” as opposed to sympathetic activities that are “flight or flight”, like an intense workout).

These can include:

  • Mobility
  • Yoga or stretching
  • Walk or an easy jog
  • Light hip and core exercises
  • Meditation
  • Other recovery protocols such as: heat/ice, stim, massage, compression, etc.

Generally, an active recovery day features activities that reach about 60 to 70 percent of your maximum effort. In other words, keep the intensity low to moderate.

That being said, remember to listen to your body and give it a break when it needs one. If you need a complete rest day, take it.

Other Factors At Play for Optimizing Recovery

Sleep

Sleep is essential. Not just on rest day.

Not to completely sound like a broken record, but if you’re not sleeping well, fix that first. Sleep is really a very powerful element to recovery.

In general, one or two nights of poor or little sleep won’t have much impact on performance, but consistently getting inadequate sleep (less than 7-8 hours) can result in subtle changes in hormone levels, particularly those related to stress, muscle recovery and mood.

Everyone’s needs are a little different, but some research indicates that sleep deprivation (less than those 7 hours) can lead to increased levels of cortisol (a stress hormone), decreased activity of human growth hormone (which is active during tissue repair), and decreased glycogen synthesis. Other studies link sleep deprivation with decreased aerobic endurance and increased ratings of perceived exertion.

Get your sleep tonight. Try this:

Set a night time alarm – one an hour before ‘bedtime’ to remind you to turn off your blue-light devices and another fifteen minutes before it’s time for your head to hit the pillow.

Read more: Sleeping Tips for Athletes

Nutrition

Eat better to improve recovery? You bet!

Another major part of recovery has to do with replenishing energy stores and fluids lost during exercise. This means eating whole, nutrient-dense, unprocessed foods in your post-workout meal and ensuring you’re staying hydrated. Eating whole foods with herbs and spices can also help to moderate inflammation, assisting in recovery.

If you’re training hard, it’s important to refuel the machine (your body) for repair and recover and also prepare it for the upcoming workout tomorrow. Now is not the time to drastically restrict your food intake. At Salus Nutrition, we take a holistic approach and analyze each client’s situation to provide an individualized solution. Everyone is different when it comes to rest day vs training day macronutrient needs, but generally many clients do well with a consistent amount of fuel throughout the week.

When it comes to supplements, remember that supplements are designed to be supplemental: in addition to the fundamentals of proper nutrition. If you insist on pounding your body in the gym and your body is crying for a recovery day, a supplement probably won’t prevent further damage. Supplements aren’t formulated to fix stubbornness.

However, if you’ve tried the basic rest and recovery strategies consistently for several weeks and your body is still feeling trashed, consider supplementing.

Mental

Studies show that pain perception can be affected by stress, stage of the menstrual cycle (for women), and individual tolerance. Incorporating a recovery day is not only important for our bodies, it also is beneficial to help refresh our minds and destress.

Go ahead and roughhouse with your kids in the yard, take a walk or pick up a pen and start journaling.

The point is to give your mind time to chill out, break out of your routine and appreciate your day off. You’ll come back feeling mentally recharged and highly motivated.

How Many Recovery Days Do I Need?

The number of recovery days you need will depend on how intensely you’re training, your age, fitness level, etc.

Paying attention to how your body feels and how motivated you are is extremely helpful in determining your rest day and recovery needs and modifying your training program accordingly. Some people do well with a 3 days on, one day off cycle. Others prefer a 5 days on, two days off. It’s all very individualized.

It is this balance that takes us to a higher level of fitness. The greater the training intensity and effort, the greater the need for active recovery.

Don’t Fall for the Quick Fix

You want results. We get that. But be careful not to fall into the trap. Don’t fall for the quick fix or the next diet fad.

It won’t last.

don't fall for the quick fix

Buzz Words Are Confusing

Trending diet words like Keto, macros, intermittent fasting, flexible dieting, paleo can be overwhelming. Confusing. Frustrating. With one search on Google, we’re faced with hundreds of options to help us get results.

The problem?

Promising unrealistic, unsustainable results, most fads are marketed as a quick fix and do not provide the long-term lifestyle changes you really crave. Before you respond with, wait Coach, I thought you counted macros. Yes, I do. But here’s the thing (and I’m pretty sure you’ve heard me say this before):

What’s right for them, may not be (and probably is not) right for you.

Looking at the above list, of “trending diet words,” it’s important to note that they have their purpose for some individuals. A cancer patient, for example, may benefit from eating Keto. A competitive athlete may benefit from counting macros. But, I’ll repeat this again: What’s right for them may not be right for you.

Sure, jump on any new diet trend for a few weeks and you’ll probably lose a few pounds. But you have to ask yourself if that way of living is sustainable. If not, you can expect that weight to creep back on (and then some).

So, what’s a confused goal-seeker to do?

What’s Your Motivation?

The biggest driver to change is finding your motivation. Why do you really want to XYZ (lose weight/gain muscle)? Is it to feel healthy? Look good? Perform better? You cannot achieve any of these goals on a quick fix. Identify your long term goal and determine the things you can do today, this week and even this month to accomplish that goal?

Fine Tune Nutrition Habits for the Long Haul

What behaviors can you fine tune to better your chances at staying on track with making better food choices? For example: make time to meal prep, get enough sleep, meditate, etc.

Create a sustainable plan that you and the entire family can embrace. After all, YOU are the one setting an example for your children. What habits do you want them to develop as they grow up?

And remember to be patient with the process. You’re creating new habits: for life (not just for spring break).

Ready to Nix the Quick Fix and RESET Your Habits?

Staying focused on one new goal every week, we will help you stay committed toward working on your nutrition and lifestyle goals for six weeks.

  1. Week one, we start with a kitchen clean out. We’ll be resetting your eating habits.
  2. Next, in week two, we add on portion awareness and talk about the importance of hydration.
  3. Week three is all about sleep. This is perhaps one of the most important factors (that most of us neglect).
  4. In week four, we talk about movement. CrossFit, running, biking, weightlifting. Whatever you love to do…do that! And then some.
  5. Week five is vital to our mental health – which can translate to our physical health. We’ll talk about stress reduction strategies you can carry through with us well beyond the six weeks.
  6. Finally in week six, we will discuss your recovery and self care habits and put it all together.

Huge changes can be made in a small amount of time.

So, go ahead…partner up with your family, workout buddies, long-distance friends, neighbor… and let’s do this!

Find out more about our upcoming nutrition challenge here >>

Register Today!

Contact Coach Angela or Coach Camilla at foundationnutrition@crossfitsalus.com

Nutrition for Teens

Tired of trying to get your teens to eat healthy? Whether your child is a competitive athlete, recreational athlete, student (or all of the above), nutrition for teens can be tricky.

Nutrition for Teens: Fueling Your Young Athlete

From sidelining sugar to sleeping for strength, nutrition and lifestyle factors play a huge role in improving athletic performance. Being the best athlete isn’t just about how much you train in the gym or on the field. Your young athlete, whether they are competitive or recreational, will have an edge over their competition if they eat, drink and recover the right way.

At Foundation Nutrition, our focus is on real food. Keeping nutrition for teens as natural as possible is key. Of course, homemade foods are always preferred to packaged foods, but we know restaurants and convenient foods are going to happen. So, we’ll help your teen navigate through the maze to choose their best options for fueling their bodies.

But choosing the right, quality foods is only half of the battle. Knowing what to eat, how much to eat and when to eat it also plays a role. And, of course what they eat every day leading up to game day matters most.

Carbohydrates, proteins, fats all work together like a team. Those macronutrients are essential, along with their teammates: vitamins, minerals, fiber and water. It’s important for your teens to get in the habit of reading nutrition labels and recognize ingredients worthy of putting in their bodies.

Give Teens the Direction the Need to Reach Their Goals

At Foundation Nutrition for Teens, we take into account their goals, interests, personal preferences, likes and dislikes, hobbies and history to create an individualized action plan. From the winning pre-game meal to the rebuilding recovery meal, we’ll help them recognize smart choices, read nutrition labels and figure out how to choose the right foods for their game plan.

Your teen will meet on a regular basis with Coach Angela (also via text, email or phone) to review progress and encourage small, gradual changes week-by-week. Rather than focus on calorie counting, Coach Angela will help them understand food choices and healthy, sustainable habits for life.

Take the stress out of trying to get your teen to understand how to eat. By reviewing progress, listening to their challenges, Coach Angela will work with your teen to come up with an actionable plan for improving and maintaining healthy habits to reach their goals.

Find out more by contacting Coach Angela at foundationnutrition@crossfitsalus.com.

Summertime Nutrition Challenge Begins May 15

Is it summer yet?! Beach season is right around the corner (really it is) so it’s the perfect time for a nutrition challenge!

Achieve Your Diet and Fitness Goals

Whether your goal is to lose weight and look amazing in your swimsuit, or you’re looking for serious performance gains, this Challenge is for you.
During the Challenge, You will have all the tools you need to succeed like weekly meal plans, recipe books, and tons of support. You’ll also get to track how much you’ve improved your body composition and performance.

An Experience You Won’t Forget

We want everyone to get involved and do it together. It will be an experience you won’t forget!
Nicole from Lurong Living is our personal guide to help us along the way – feel free to ask her any questions on our private Challenge Facebook group.

Resources

Challenge Info Page
Why Join the Challenge?
How the Challenge Works?
3 Diet Levels (all about the nutritional philosophy and diet options) 

Pricing

Early Bird Pricing: $40 (ends April 24th)
Post Early Bird Pricing: $55

Take advantage of the early bird price (ends 4/24), save $15 now!

Sign up now.

Timeline

Challenge Starts: May 15th
Challenge Ends: June 18th