Your Complete Guide to Rest Days….and a peek into the importance of rest

REST.

I think that proper rest is one of the most misunderstood facets of a great health and fitness program.

Why do I think that?

Well, I myself struggle with rest :) which is why I decided to dig into the importance of rest when trying to reach your goals.

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Two of the most important things to know about rest deal with your metabolism. First, you repair and grow more lean muscle tissue during rest. Whenever you are working out, you are actually creating small tears in the muscle fiber which is translated as a trauma. During rest, your body springs into action and begins to repair those tears, preparing the body for another bout with the weights so as to make the muscles stronger and more efficient. The body truly is a wonderful creation!

Second, you utilize more stored fat during rest (the “fat burning zone” myth is for another day) than during workouts. This is because is it not metabolically efficient for your body to dig into stored fat for energy during exercise or stress. In fact, your body finds it far easier to burn through muscle once the carb fuel sources run out. So, rest becomes an important factor in fat loss.

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So, how much rest do you need AND what is the best way to go about rest?

If your NUTRITION is on point and your WORKOUTS are designed to expend maximum calories while building lean muscle, then you’re probably two-thirds of the way towards your goal. If you’ve noticed that your workouts are beginning to suffer and your cravings are beginning to conquer……you need to work in some scheduled rest. That may sound like a no-brainer, but simply taking 1 day a week to loaf around the house won’t bring you results…..it could actually be derailing your progress if it has become a habit. Here are a few quick tips about rest periods that help you reach your goals.

  1. Know your threshold. This applies to workouts as well as stress. When your body is under stress it really doesn’t differentiate between physical workouts and unattainable deadlines. Chemically, it’s all processed the same. So, make sure that the fitness you have chosen helps to lighten the stress load and not add to it.
  2. Know your limit with exercise. I made this mistake many months ago: after my last competition, I decided to build out my back a bit more. So, I added a second heavy back day and a heavy deadlift day. I still focused on HIGH volume workouts 6 days per week (side note: I would shriek if a client did this). My rest was minimal and over time I paid the price. My hormones were out of whack and I’m still struggling to get back to my previous state of fitness. The point? Too much is too much…..even of a good thing.
  3. Figure it out. Each type of workout needs a specific period of rest. Powerlifting usually requires more rest than bodybuilding, which requires more rest than circuit training or say yoga or Pilates. To make it easier; the heavier the lift, the more rest you need.
  4. Make your food work for you. I’m a fan of MACROS, but I always lean in more towards nutrients. Why on earth would I cause my body to work HARDER just to process some food? It can cause inflammation over time and even wreak havoc on the backside with cellulite. So, focus on 80% of your diet being whole foods (I’m not what I call a CLEAN eater because people get all confused with that) that either come straight from the ground or have a mamma. I make this happen by prepping ahead of time, knowing what I’m going eat, and keeping plenty of fruits and veggies on hand at all times.

Now, I’m working on healing my body with nutrition and rest. I still have off weeks (this being one of them) due mostly to non-workout related stress, but I’m finding my ground.

Keep in mind that this body is the only one you truly get, even if you have replacement parts. So treat it right, respect boundaries, rest up and workout to feel like the awesome rock star you are :)

Till next time,

Michelle

OH, and check out this GREAT post about NAPPING from my good friend Pamela.

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