Why You Might Be Using Your Rest Days Wrong

Hey Squadies, how are you feeling? Sore, tight, and fatigued perhaps? Sounds like you would benefit from a rest day and some active recovery!

When you’re consistently working towards a goal, it can feel difficult to take a rest day as you may feel like you are wasting valuable time. However, a rest day is just as, if not more important than working out.

Most of us when we're trying to get healthy or fit, think the more training the better. Believe me, I used to do this when I was a pro athlete, my mentality was always "first one on the field, last one to leave".

​​However, by overworking your body and not taking time to recover, results start to deteriorate. When your body becomes overly stressed and overworked, it will start to break down its own muscle for fuel, and in the end, you are wondering why you aren’t getting the results you are looking for.

Why are rest days so important?

Rest days are crucial because they allow your muscles to repair themselves. When you workout, microscopic tears begin to develop in your muscles, therefore if you are working out every single day without rest, they will accumulate over time and lead to fatigue, injury and burnout.

However, when you allow your muscles to rest, cells called fibroblasts will repair the tears, helping your muscles to heal, grow, and become stronger. This is ideal, especially if your goal is weight loss because muscle burns more calories at rest than fat.

All this being said, rest days do not mean laying on the couch all day. If passive rest is what you feel you need, then do it, it’s your body and you have control. However, it will not replenish your body as well as active recovery does.

In my professional rugby days, the day after big game days and tournaments when we were exhausted and sore, my team would always come in and do an active recovery session to help repair and replenish our muscles.

So, what is active recovery?

Active recovery is any form of low-impact mobility such as light cardio and stretching. The goal is to allow your muscles to recover by increasing blood flow just enough to boost your circulation to help get nutrients like amino acids and oxygen to your muscles. It also helps to flush out any toxins you’ve built up from your workouts such as lactic acid and hydrogen ions that cause muscle damage and fatigue.

Active recovery will repair and strengthen your muscles

Active recovery can help re-energize your body by allowing it to restore its glycogen levels. Glycogen is a form of energy that is stored in your muscles that gets burnt through when you exercise, therefore by resting and doing active recovery, it gives time for the muscles to replenish their glycogen stores.

Not allowing this to happen causes your muscles to use proteins for energy, taking them away from assisting muscle repair and growth.

The active recovery sessions that I include in every challenge are just 10-15 minutes 2 times a week. I walk you through every movement and really urge you to focus on your breathing. This allows your body and mind to recover from the stress of the workouts as well as day-to-day life.

I know for Brodie and I, we are constantly under stress from trying to keep up with the twins and Hudson and it can feel very overwhelming at times. Taking just 10-15 minutes to focus on ourselves has really helped to clear our minds and re-energize our bodies so we can be the best versions of ourselves for the kids.