Rest and recovery are often ignored in people's fitness routines (and also their lives in general). But for the progress and results everyone is hoping for, rest and recovery are imperative.
(A bit of insight into our programming: every Thursday is designed as an active recovery day,
featuring skill work, conversational paced workouts, and more mobility than usual.)
Our gym is rarely open on Sundays and that is, in part, to force our athletes to take a day away from the gym. Way back in the day, several of our athletes begged for Sunday open gym or extra workouts during the week, ignoring their bodies cries for rest. They all suffered from some chronic pain or injury and their progress slowed to a halt, and in some cases, started regressing. So, why wouldn't they chill out and rest? They were all terrified that a day out of the gym would set them back and disrupt lifting PRs.
We not only force a Sunday closure, but our Thursday's are geared toward a mid-week active recovery workout so that long-term progress is attainable and sustainable.
However, just taking a day (or even week) off isn't enough.
What you do during your rest time is also important for effective results.
On your rest days, (whether a Sunday every week or a week of vacation) take care of your body!
Crush an entire pizza and case of beer, or eat not much at all. Just because you aren't working out doesn't mean your body doesn't still need proper amounts of protein, fat, and carbs. You will probably be just fine only cutting carbs back a little (you'll probably make it up in alcoholic beverages, anyway).
Forget to drink water. Even if you aren't sweating, you still need water.
Stay up all night watching a full season of your favorite tv show and sleep all day the next day. Your sleep won't be restful and you'll have wasted half of the following day. Getting back into your health routine will be that much harder.
Spend all of your time sitting on the couch. Mondays usually suck because people are stiff from not moving all weekend. Even if it's just a Sunday night walk, any movement is better than none.
Stress yourself out. You cannot recover from the bodily stress of workouts all week with mental or emotional stress on your days off.
Stick to your normal nutrition plan. If you need a day to splurge or let loose, don't go all out & make it your last training day. (Ex. I usually work out Monday - Saturday, so Saturday night is when I'll splurge. I try to get back on track Sunday or else I'll feel like garbage Monday.)
Drink water. Especially if you're drinking alcoholic beverages or spending time in the sun.
Stay on your normal sleep schedule (or at least get the same amount of restful sleep you always do - or should). Staying up to finish a movie? Ok, allow yourself to sleep in a little the next day.
Stretch, roll out, or lacrosse ball something. You don't have to do a full on yoga class, just do something to remind your muscles they've got work to do Monday.
Enjoy yourself. Taking a day (or week) off should be stress-free, relaxing, and fun.
*Disclaimer: I fully believe, in my humble opinion, that time to let loose (stay up all night, eat an entire pizza, day drink until you pass out by the pool, etc.) is also healthy, in the grand scheme of things. In order to take care of your body and optimize rest days, however, those extreme times should be kept to a minimum. The body likes balance and consistency - find those in your life with rest, recovery, nutrition, and enjoying life and your health and training will reward you!