Studies show that around 70% of fitness bloggers talk about nutrition, lifting weights, and form while performing squats. They also chat about supplements they are using in the article. Have you ever read an article about what to do outside of the gym? Well, you’re about to!
If we break it down, you'll realize that this is actually a good time to think about recovery. Not only does it help to simply rest and refuel after all the hard work at the gym, but apparently it also helps with muscle growth by improving your insulin sensitivity. One or two days off from the gym per week is good for your body, including stretching, eating and sleeping - but it also includes giving your body a break from the heavy workout.
The big boys don't like the term 'off days', because if you are serious about this, then you know there are no true days off. Importantly, people often associate the phrase 'off day' with doing nothing at all. This can have a negative effect on peoples' perception of your business and lead to you being less productive. We prefer to call them 'recovery days', because it changes the way we think of the day.
We know that your body loves movement, and really hates being inactive. Take it easy on your recovery days from exercise by switching to some low-key physical activities that will get you moving and raise your heart rate, without overworking the muscles.
Below, you'll find some useful exercises to add to your recovery that will help keep you feeling better for longer. A recovery day will also let your body recover and make it easier to prepare for the next bout of exercise.
HOW MUCH REST
One of the hottest topics in fitness is what is the appropriate amount of rest time. There's a lot of disagreement on both time between sets, days off and workout frequency.
An emerging trend is to take a rest day every 3-5 days. This ensures your body stays rested and able to get the most of out their time at work. Some people will work 3 days, have one day off, and then work 5 consecutive days. Others may prefer to work a five day a week schedule and then take two consecutive days off. This is a great schedule for people with a regular 9-5-ish type of job. You get the weekends totally free and mirrors your work schedule.
Regardless of how you structure your gym schedule, you should aim to have about 2-3 recovery days every week
WHY YOU SHOULD TAKE RECOVERY DAYS
There has been some debate about how much rest you should take, but the important thing is to take enough rest days from your normal routine. If you work out at the gym 3 times a week, your body goes through a lot of stress since it builds muscles.
When muscle tissue is generally strained from heavy exercise, it could eventually tear in some circumstances. After 1-2 days, the muscles will start to repair themselves and grow back stronger than they were before. You need to work out to build a muscle. Muscles are torn down during hard workouts, then grow back bigger and stronger over the next few days.
If we don't give our muscles time to recover, not only will they not get stronger but you could seriously injure yourself.
BEST ACTIVITIES AND EXERCISES FOR ACTIVE RECOVERY
Now that we've established the 'what' and the 'why,' let's get to the 'how'. Here are some of our favorite activities for your recovery days. It's a great way to keep active and moving without putting too much stress on your muscles.
Hiking is a great way to stay fit. It may not be as popular as running or cycling, but you'll have time to enjoy the scenery and check out the scenery
Almost all weightlifters, bodybuilders, and athletes write off walking as being too easy. Yet there are many physical benefits such as improved cardiovascular health and reduced risk of injury. Walking can also be helpful in preventing mental burnout. Regular, brisk walking is great for your mental & physical health. Studies show that people who walk regularly are 39% less likely to die, and they also tend to be in a better mood!
Walking is a great low-impact aerobic activity for mental health. This lets you get some fresh air and connect with others in your community.
You may not like doing cardio, but it's good for a number of reasons. In the gym, negative opinions on cardio often come from people who believe they will lose muscle mass if they do any kind of cardio.
Let's dispel that myth! If you do enough cardio, you'll actually be building muscle. If you want to burn more calories, try doing cardio! It's not enough to just work out in the gym. If your schedule doesn't allow for frequent trips to the gym, then this is a good way of keeping your metabolism high.
Cardiovascular exercise can include anything that raises your heart rate--from walking to running, from rowing to riding a bike, or from doing yard work.
In essence, simply exercising doesn't mean you should avoid cardio. We recommend that you do something active on days where you can't make it to the gym. Maybe instead of driving, consider biking to work.
Yes, you read that right: we said yoga.
It would take a whole other article to go over how many benefits yoga has and it would not be a simple exercise. Yoga is not only about stretching but can also be excellent for cardio (See above).
Yoga can be a very meditative exercise. Intense focus is required to hold poses for a certain period of time. It's also great for learning how to control your breathing, which is important to keep in mind when lifting weights. Yoga is a great form of exercise that will help you reduce stress, clear your mind and make sure that you always have a good range of motion.
Here's what you need to do: find a studio near you and go. Not only will this relieve your stress, but it can also help improve your posture and breathing too.
There's one thing I'm sure of- going to the sauna has a ton of health benefits. While regular sessions can help your heart, clear skin, and improve circulation, a million other things happen too!
Saunas are a great way to get your muscles back in shape and alleviate some of the stress from your day. They can be quite relaxing, so you are less likely to drain yourself of energy after using one. Saunas also serve as an excellent way to create space between the stresses from your day and help you process everything that happened.
It's important to take it slow when you're not used to the sauna. Good starting points are 15 minute sessions with a limited 10 minutes at a time thereafter. Make sure you're drinking water and cooling yourself off for a few minutes in between sessions to ensure safety
If possible, try to find a gym that offers both a sauna or steam room. It usually comes included with the monthly payment, which means you're saving money while getting plenty of health benefits.
If you're passionate about lifting weights and getting stronger, you probably hate missing a day at the gym. One of the best ways to stay in shape outside of the gym is by preparing yourself for your next visit, and meal prepping does this.
Preparing meals ahead of time doesn't have to be difficult or extremely time consuming. Using kitchen appliances like an Instant Pot Pressure Cooker can significantly cut down on the amount of work it takes.
One of our favorite instant pot recipes is chili with ground beef. This has plenty of protein, fiber, fat and carbs to keep you going for your next workout
Preparing your meals in advance during one or two days of the week can often save you significant time down the line, and also removes any uncertainty about what you're going to eat for other days. Having healthy, pre-cooked meals in the fridge ensures that you don't have to worry about cooking anything for lunch.
PLAY A SPORT
If you're not lifting, try to take up a sport. It's a great way to get outside and will improve your mood & energy levels. If you have spare time, why not go for a jog or join in on a pick-up game? Keeping your body moving and heart rate up is an easy way to keep stress from building up.
Sports are good for you not only because they keep you in shape but also because they're enjoyable and can relieve mental stress. They're additionally great at challenging your brain as well as keeping it healthy.
Lifting weights is a great way to build your mind/body connection, so it's not surprising that you may pick up other physical skills quickly. Here are some of our favorite sports for recovery: surfing, frisbee golf, softball, rock climbing and swimming. Whatever you decide to play, make sure it's not too difficult and drink plenty of water. It's also important to stretch before or after. Other than that, try not go out of the gym when you would otherwise be exercising.
USE A FOAM ROLLER
When people mention that they're using a foam roller you might hear them say 'self-myofascial release'. That's just a different way of saying 'giving yourself excellent self-care!'
The key takeaway from foam roller massage is that it's been proven to reduce muscle soreness, and feels good. This makes it a great activity to use during active recovery days.
GET A MENTAL WORKOUT IN
It's important to avoid looking like a meathead when you're not in the gym. The last thing you want is for your intelligence level to drop down below room temperature! So take some time away from the gym and do some mental exercises as well.
This doesn't mean that you have to focus on math problems all day (although it never hurts), but check out any number of activities that can help your brains. Some of us like to read, or play sudoku puzzles. Even video games can be a decent workout for the mind if challenging enough.
Here are two of our favourite activities to stay mentally fit: learning an instrument and learning a new language. First, they will keep your mind sharp, not to mention help with your everyday life!
It's important to rest days in your work out plan. They're recommended and necessary to improving strength and muscular gains. But that doesn't mean don't stay active without the gym at least a few days a week. Rather than viewing downtime from the gym as "off days", look at them as Active Recovery Days. There's plenty of exercises & activities you can do while you're away from the gym and that will help you to prepare yourself for your next workout.
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