It might feel like seven days of training is the best way to reach your goals, especially for those of us tri-minded athletes. We’re a busy breed- it’s hard enough to rest our brains, let alone our bodies, right?! Taking a day off just doesn’t seem like an option. And during tri season- forget about it!
Including at least one regularly scheduled rest day in training, routine isn’t just a dedicated 24 hours to snacking, sleeping, and binge-watching tv. Seasoned tri vets know that’s just about the quickest way to undo months of work. However, including a full day of carefully planned rest, i.e., an actual “rest day” is an essential piece to your training program.
Whether you’re a new everyday athlete that’s looking for a little guidance on the whole rest day situation, or you’ve done countless tris and you’re working with a coach, but want to boost your rest day plan, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading for our 6 tricks to help you create the perfect rest day- just stick around!
Understand the “Why” Behind Rest Day
So you know you should be resting… but why exactly is that? It might seem like seven days a week isn’t really enough to achieve your goals as it is, so why should you dedicate one of those to resting? The answer is simple- science says a rest day is one of the best ways to ensure you reach your goals while keeping your body (inside and out) in great shape.
Here are a few key reasons why a rest day is not an option, it’s a requirement:
- Prevent injury.
- Give your brain a chance to catch up.
- Avoid the plateau.
- Catch up on sleep.
Not allowing yourself to focus on each of the above reasons will eventually set you back in your training program, ultimately affecting your overall goals. So don’t test your limits. Add a rest day to your routine!
Know the Difference Between a Recovery Day vs. A Rest Day
Recovery days, although equally as important as rest days, aren’t exactly the same thing. Recovery days are structured to help you recover after a long stint of hardcore training, or after an event.
They’re also not usually just a day, they’re usually an entire recovery period. And these need to be planned very carefully with your coach.
Rest days are exactly what they sound like- rest. No workouts, no timed anything, just strictly resting. But stay tuned for more on recovery days, we’ll have more to say about that in a post further down the road, because we know our way around a recovery routine, too.
Change Your Rest Day Mentality
For some of us, rest just isn’t really a thing. This is where you need to pivot and work on changing your focus just a bit. Instead of thinking of a rest day as a wasted day of training, or a day to do nothing, think of it as a day to train your brain.
We can all agree that without a fully functioning brain to guide our bodies, our training days aren’t really going to do much good, right? So shift your focus a bit, and think of it as a mental health day. A brain-building day. If we’re giving our muscles dedicated days to grow and develop, surely our brain deserves the same.
Focus on Rest Day Nutrition
Yes, nutrition should absolutely be a focus every single other day. Your daily meals are already tailored to give your body the fuel it needs for your workouts and training. However, oftentimes during your training regime, you’re focused on balancing your training/work life and nutrition comes in the form of what you can eat on-the-go, or even prepare ahead of time.
We can’t tell you exactly what to eat, that’s a very personal plan that you have to discuss with your trainer or other medical professionals. This is all very dependent on where you are in your training vs. fitness goals process.
When rest day rolls around, take the time to prepare your meals with the thought and intention you don’t get to deliver on your most busy days. You know… slow your roll just a bit. Enjoy the process. Even if you’re not a self-proclaimed home chef or foodie, there’s something still very therapeutic about going through the motions of cooking. Smell the smells, find joy in the measurements, and just be present with your rest day nutrition.
You can also take your rest day meals a step further and find local restaurants and cafes that serve the food you’re looking for. Try something new! You never know where your next favorite rest day meal might pop up.
Up Your Rest Day Technology Game
While you’re having a brain-building day, your muscles should be indulging in all the best relaxation tools to make the most of their time off. Take advantage of some of the new recovery tools available to help take rest day to a whole new level.
These fantastic therapy tools are meant to provide targeted muscle therapy for immediate relief from tight muscles. They can also be used to activate muscles before a workout- so a percussion gun isn’t just a rest day thing.
Choose a percussion gun that has highly customizable settings, so you can easily transition from rest day to training day. Also, percussion guns with multiple attachments will be your new best friend. This helps ensure you’re able to be as accurate as possible with your therapy.
A percussion gun with long battery life is another absolute must. Rest day is a great time to take advantage of getting out and about and absorbing the sites in your hometown, so being able to take your percussion gun with you just makes the whole day that much better.
So where can you find a percussion gun that checks all of these boxes? It sounds like a unicorn, just impossible to find! Until now… our Pro Percussion Gun does all the things! Not to mention, it comes with an Ironclad 2-year protection you already know and love from Speed Hound.
Dynamic compression therapy is one of the best ways to take advantage of your rest day time, and to pack as much recovery into these days as possible. And you can do it in your own home!
Our Pro Performance Recovery System provides on-demand, dynamic air pressure that massages your legs after workouts so you're fresh and ready to take on tomorrow… keyword being tomorrow, because today is a rest day, remember?
You can make your rest day a state-of-the-art event with either of these tools. When you add either of these- or both- to your rest day routine, you’ll never question rest day again. Ever.
Decide on the Best Rest Day Frequency
This is another one of those things that you should talk to a professional about before you commit. Usually, one day a week is a good rule of thumb for adding a rest day to your routine. But, you might need to ramp that up, or scale back, depending on a few different factors.
When you chat with your coach or doctor about how often you should be taking a rest day, be prepared to consider the following:
- How long have you been training?
- What’s your fitness level at that very moment?
- Health history, including any potential hereditary issues or underlying medical conditions.
- Your overall physical health… and mental health!
- Do you have any outside stressors that could impact your training?
- How often are you training?
Of course, these are just a few things to consider. Medical professionals and trainers will guide you through the process and gather plenty more information, but these are usually a few standard things to think about.
It’s also worth noting here that you have to be 100% transparent and honest with disclosing this information to your team. It’s truly the only way to make sure you’re going to get the safest plan that works best for you.
See?! That wasn’t so bad! Rest doesn’t have to be a four-letter word! Once you change up your rest day mentality and focus on the active parts of what happens during these recharge days, then you can start to reap the benefits.