Rest days come in two forms: There’s the one you can’t wait for, and the one you’d rather skip so you can get back to the gym! As you get increasingly serious about your training and goals, you’ll experience both types many times. Here’s how to navigate them:
What to do on a much-needed rest day:
- Nothing! Yes, this is OK. You’ll lose nothing by taking it easy. In fact, if you’ve been pushing really hard in the gym, you might gain something by taking it easy! After all, training just pushes you toward your fitness goals, but rest and proper nutrition are required to get past the finish line.
- Give muscular therapy a shot! Take a hot bath, sit in a hot tub, or try a contrast shower (30 seconds hot, 30 seconds cold for a few minutes).
- Take an ice bath, a favorite of bodybuilder and triathlete Kris Gethin (but not for everyone)
- Prep your meals for the next 2-3 days or more
- Read what’s new on Bodybuilding.com to find new techniques, recipes, stay motivated, and more!
- If your budget and schedule allow, book a massage or some body work with a physical therapist
- Go for a walk or do some light mobility work to get the blood flowing and decrease soreness
- Stretch or foam roll. Just do it right!
What to do when you don’t want to rest:
- Any of the stuff listed above, including doing nothing.
- Make fitness fun! Play a sport with friends, do something active you wouldn’t normally do, or try a new activity or low-intensity fitness class.
- Take the approach recommended by Nick Tumminello, Bodybuilding.com contributor and creator of the True Muscle program: One day of full rest each week is mandatory. Any others can be "active rest" days of low-impact cardio, swimming, walking, hiking, or yoga. If you must go to the gym, then do a "bro" day of arms and abs.
No matter what you do, don’t do too much, too hard. Your time in a program is sacred, so focus on healing up and coming back strong!