Muscle growth requires adequate rest. To become the biggest man on campus, you need to treat your rest days as seriously as your training days. Lifting actually damages muscle tissue; only with proper rest and recovery does muscle grow.
Quality rest isn't watching movies, swilling soda and cramming potato chips. Check these seven essential tips to get the best from your rest days.
Don't turn your rest days into cheat days. You need to ingest quality fuel to build quality muscle. Give your body every opportunity to grow by sticking to clean, nutrient-dense food sources.
Junk food may be convenient, but it won't boost your gains. It may even derail them. One cheat meal per week may help you stick to the nutrition plan, but I'd save it for a training day.
Have your cheat meal after a workout, when your muscles are hungry for nutrients.
Sleep is essential for muscle growth. It's the time when your body's growth hormone release peaks. It's also a key time for muscle repair and growth.
Take your rest days seriously: Use the extra time to schedule extra sleep! You've been working your butt off in the gym, so make sure you allow your muscles to recover. No recovery means no growth!
A low-intensity cardio session can help you recover from a lifting session. Take a walk around campus, play some Frisbee golf, or go play a light game of pick-up ball.
Low-intensity cardio will loosen your muscles, move nutrients to damaged tissue, speed your recovery and help you maintain a solid level of cardiovascular fitness. Rest-day cardio should be fun, not taxing.
In the process of recovering from cumulative training damage, your muscles tend to shorten. You can easily tell which bodybuilders don't work on their flexibility—their muscles are tight and stiff, which hampers athleticism.
Take your body through the following light stretching routine, holding each stretch for at least 30 seconds.
Don't want to stretch alone? Turn over a new leaf and try yoga. Current research suggests that yoga may reduce back pain, reduce stress and anxiety, lower heart rate and blood pressure, and help relieve insomnia.
Yoga is also great for increasing strength and flexibility. Of course, this is a rest day, so don't burn yourself out in a hot yoga class.
A foam roll (or other device/massage) applies force to a tightened muscle, activating certain receptors that will cause it to relax. Adhesions that are gluing together your muscle fibers are broken, accelerating muscle recovery.
After you stretch or hit a yoga class, perform the following soft-tissue routine. Make sure to hit each exercise for at least 30 seconds.
Big Man on Campus is about balance and time management. If you want to be a successful student, you need to put in the work. Spend some time on rest days paying special attention to your schoolwork. Join a study group for extra homework help, motivation and socialization.