If you set aside a couple of days per week to rest and recover from your workouts, then you’re on the right path. Generally, the concept of a rest day is a good idea and will benefit you. It’s not healthy to workout every single day, you’ll overtrain and damage your muscles, leading to no gains at all.
I won’t have a go at you for being a tad confused here already. Clearly, the title says that rest days could be ruining your gains. But, I just said they were good…so…what’s all that about then? The keyword in all of this is ‘could’. Rest days ‘could’ ruin your gains, but only when they’re not used properly.
Now, you will be surprised to know how many people wrongly use their rest days. Which is hilarious considering how easy a rest day should be for you. All you really have to do is rest and recover, how can you possibly go wrong? Well, I’ve written this article to show you some of the bad things you might do on your rest days that lead to a lack of gains in the future. Give them a read, and follow any advice that might help you stop doing the wrong thing.
Eating Too Much
The thing about a rest day is that you shouldn’t do much physical activity at all. As a consequence, you won’t burn many calories on these days, but that’s okay! This only becomes an issue when your food intake is large. I know so many people that sit at home on a rest day and just binge eat. They think it’s a chance to have a cheat day and just fuel up on food ready for their workout the following day.
The logic behind this is fairly well thought out, so I’ll give you credit if you do this. To prepare for your next set of workouts, you consume a lot of calories and carbs to provide more energy and get you nice and refuelled. A bit like stopping your car overnight and filling up the tank, right? However, as I said, you aren’t burning many calories on a rest day, so all that food is just going to pile on, with very few calories coming off. It makes it harder to lose weight and could be why you’re not doing so. Instead, you need to follow a low calorie diet, particularly on rest days. Try and reduce the calories, even more, when you aren’t working out. This prevents any unnecessary calorie overloading and will keep you on the right path to fitness success.
Doing Your Cardio
Bizarrely, quite a few people set aside their rest days for cardio. I know, it doesn’t make any sense, it’s not a rest day if you’re exercising. People do this as they think you only need a rest from generic training. If you train using weights, then cardio counts as a rest, correct?
No, it doesn’t. You’re still working your muscles, you’re still putting your body through some tough work, it’s not a rest. You’ll run the risk of overtraining, which is exactly what you should avoid by taking a rest day. Do cardio either on the same day as your regular workouts or on another day. Rest on your rest day, don’t work out in any way!
So, there are certain things you’re doing that you shouldn’t be doing, and there’s one thing you need to do that maybe you aren’t. Stretching is essential if you want to keep your muscles healthy and feel less sore. If you lengthen your muscles, you become more flexible, less prone to injuries, and will see more gains in general.
You should set aside time during your rest days to really go through a full body stretching and mobility routine. The reason you do it on your rest day is because you should have a good hour or so spare where you’d normally work out. Get a solid stretching session in to prepare your body for your workouts and keep it in good health.
After reading this, it’s maybe more apparent how your rest day can go totally wrong. If you’re eating loads, still doing workouts, and not stretching, then you’ve really messed up your rest day. I can’t stress enough how important one or two proper rest days per week will help you. Use them properly, or you will see issues with your gains. If you feel like you’ve maybe hit a wall recently, then this could be the problem.
Ally Gonzales is the founder & editor-in-chief of RunningSoleGirl. Along with blogging she is also juggling attending college and majoring in Exercise and Sports Science with a Sports Management minor.