How to Make the Most of Your Athletes’ Rest Days
While your athletes need exercise and training to keep their bodies in top shape, you need to ensure they avoid constant strenuous activity. Otherwise, they can hinder their progress by overworking themselves. A balanced fitness schedule will ensure they’re on the right track but don’t sustain any injuries along the way.
To help your team prioritize their well-being, you should help them create a routine with the correct exercise-to-rest ratio. As a result, your team will be in the best shape possible. Learn how rest days can help keep your team strong and how to optimize days off from exercise.
What Is a Rest Day?
All aspects of fitness play a crucial role in your team’s overall health — and rest days are no exception. A rest day is one day out of the week where you slow down your workouts to focus on letting your body heal.
This break from an intense exercise schedule lets your team’s body recover from the powerful work they put in throughout the week.
A rest day doesn’t mean you’re completely sedentary all day. Many people still complete low-impact activities to keep up with their workouts. However, they also use the day to recover, so relaxation is a top priority to keep them both physically and mentally fit. It’s all about balance on rest days. Further, rest days can be a way for your team to pause, appreciating the work they’ve accomplished throughout the week.
Signs You Need A Rest Day
Athletes may notice some signals from their bodies that indicate they need a rest day:
- Struggling to complete workouts
- Consistent muscle or joint pain
- Mood shifts or irritability
- Craving unhealthy food or overeating
- Stagnant fitness results
People who are persistent in their workout routines should recognize the signs of workout plateau or burnout so they know when to schedule a rest day.
Benefits of Rest Days
Whether you’re training for a marathon or completing your daily workouts, rest days provide numerous benefits for your overall health. This process is necessary for reaching your team’s fitness goals. Check out the benefits of incorporating a rest day into your team’s exercise routine:
- Allows time for recovery: One of the main purposes of a rest day is time for recovery. During exercise, muscles will endure small, microscopic tears. To ensure they build and recover properly, recuperation is a must.
- Prevents workout plateau: Some fitness enthusiasts may experience workout plateau. Athletes may experience a workout plateau when they become unmotivated with their exercises, causing them to resist going to the gym. A rest day can provide a needed break from a constant workout routine, allowing athletes to think of new exercises to change up their schedule.
- Limits workout hangover: When it’s hard for athletes to wake up in the morning because they’re so sore from working out, they may be experiencing a workout hangover. This interesting term is another way to describe the feeling of excessive exercising. If you have an athlete with a workout hangover, their body is telling them it’s time to rest, so they should set aside time for a rest day.
- Reduces risk of injury: Safety should be a priority while your team works out, as you want to keep your team strong and prevent injuries. Rest days can stop your team from overworking themselves, preventing strains and other harm that may put them off their schedules even more.
- Counteracts muscle fatigue: Exercise decreases the glycogen levels stored in muscles. Muscles will begin to feel weaker and strained as people continue to push themselves in their workouts. This occurrence is called muscle fatigue, and rest days can help prevent it by refilling glycogen levels.
- Improves overall performance: Feeling weak or tired may cause athletes to limit themselves during workouts where they typically excel. An athlete’s endurance, reaction time and agility are reliant on their body’s ability to perform, so rest is essential.
- Helps improve sleep: When your athletes exercise, their body produces the hormones adrenaline and cortisol, which boosts their energy. However, too much physical activity can create more hormones than necessary, hindering their ability to sleep at night. Adding in rest days can help balance their hormones so they continue to maintain a healthy sleep schedule.
What Do You Do on a Rest Day?
You now know why rest days are crucial for your team’s health. Now, what do you do on a rest day? While your athletes should rest up, they also need to continue nourishing their bodies to ensure they’re ready to go for next week’s workouts. Here are a few things to do on a rest day.
1. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is vital for enhancing your team’s health. It’s important for them to catch up on sleep so they can repair their bodies. Let your team know they should sleep in for an extra hour later than normal. Be sure to encourage naps, too. This trick also keeps them mentally well, so they’re at their best as a whole.
2. Listen to Your Body
If you’re unsure what your team may need to do on their rest day, ask them to pay attention to their bodies. After all, our bodies are great at telling us what they need to thrive. Let them know to look for signs that indicate they need sleep, water or food. Even a little light activity like yoga can help them feel fantastic. As a result, they can recover the right way.
3. Drink Enough Water
Sometimes, people may treat themselves too much on their off days, substituting water for other beverages like sodas and energy drinks. These drinks are OK in moderation, but you should ensure your team doesn’t go overboard. If they want to relax a little by drinking their favorite beverage, you should remind them to drink just as much, if not more, water so they stay hydrated.
4. Eat Nourishing Food
Food provides your team the nutrients they need to feel energized throughout their workouts. This fuel is important for maintaining strong muscles and healthy weights, as well. Therefore, you should ask your athletes to continue consuming the right foods during their off days. While they can feel free to splurge a little, they still want to make sure they’re eating generally healthy. As a result, they stay on track.
5. Try Low-Impact Activities
A rest day doesn’t mean your team has to avoid all forms of physical activity. In fact, it’s helpful for them to keep their bodies moving during their rest days as long as they do light or low-impact activities. Suggest activities like yoga or jogging so they can remain active in a less intense way. Be sure to avoid exercises like HIIT or weight training so they don’t overwork themselves.
6. Stretch and Relax
It’s common to feel a little sore after a workout — and if you want to know how to alleviate sore muscles, you should look into proper stretching techniques. Additionally, stretching improves flexibility and prevents injuries, so your team can stay in top shape throughout the season.
Further, relaxing is necessary. Ask your team to take it easy for the majority of the day so they can rest up properly. Feel free to encourage them to do activities they enjoy in their off time. Rather than exercising, they can take the day to see a movie, play video games or catch up with friends. It’s time for your team to focus on themselves.
How to Make the Most of Your Rest Days
To ensure your athletes have the best rest days possible, you can offer them ideas on how to spend them. For the most part, rest days are up to the athlete’s interpretation, so some of your team may spend it one way while the others take a different route. If your team doesn’t know what to do on a rest day, you can help them be productive on their off days so they’re prepared for the coming week.
Here are a few suggestions for your team:
- Meal prep: Preparing meals for the week is a smart way to ensure your team reaches their nutrition goals. Encourage your athletes to work out a meal plan filled with healthy dishes so they have enough fuel for the next week. If you want to go the extra mile, you can offer recipes.
- Write out workout schedule: Creating a structured workout schedule can help ensure your team is completing workouts that target their entire body and remind them to take a rest day. Scheduling rest days in advance increases your team’s chances of utilizing them regularly. Those days can sometimes be overlooked as they follow their daily routine, but scheduling rest days, arm days, leg days and other body-targeted workouts can help them accomplish their goals and stay on the right fitness path.
- Educate yourself on training: If your athletes miss working out on their day off or they want to prepare their workouts for the week, help them educate themselves on new fitness information to help with their fitness journey. They can watch fitness videos, read blogs about health and fitness tips or talk to friends about their workout advice and how they can improve their routine.
- Catch up with friends or family: Life can pass you by quicker than you realize, especially if you follow a strict daily routine every day. A rest day is perfect for reminding your team to reach out to family or friends and see what they’re up to. Socializing can impact their mental health, and if they’re in need of some quality time with their loved ones, they can make the most of their rest day by scheduling a coffee or lunch date with someone they care about.
- Take a bath: One of the best muscle recovery activities on off days is enjoying a bath. A warm or cold bath is beneficial for muscle recovery and a great opportunity to relax on an off day. Enhance a bath by adding some Epsom salt for improved relaxation. It’s also smart to check out therapy pools, like the ones from HydroWorx, for added soothing and repairing elements.
Ways to Have an Active Recovery Rest Day
Your team can spend their off days exactly how they want. They can take it easy and watch movies or read a book, but they can also choose to have an active recovery day. An active recovery day consists of light physical activity or low-impact workouts that still allow their bodies to recover properly.
These workouts should be significantly less intense than their usual routine. Low-impact activities can help promote blood circulation and oxygen flow throughout the body for a faster recovery time. Prevent a rest day from becoming a cheat day by accomplishing some active recovery activities. Even if it’s just for five minutes, it’s important for your team to keep their body moving for a little bit every day, as mobility helps further the fitness process.
Active rest days may be the best form of recovery. Check out these 10 low-impact activities to try on your team’s upcoming rest day:
Swimming is popular for both recreational activities and exercise. It’s fun to get in the water and swim around, but your athletes can also enjoy many benefits from swimming. This activity is a fantastic form of exercise that can be easy on muscles and joints. It raises the heart rate without too much impact on the body, as well. Your team can also build endurance and tone muscles.
Help your athletes refresh their minds and bodies with some fresh air and beautiful scenery as they go hiking outside on their rest day. Your team can take it easy on a hike by selecting an easy path or trail. Walking through nature is great for a person’s physical health and can help boost their overall well-being. Your athletes can get their legs moving, blood pumping and enjoy a light workout by taking a hike.
This light cardio workout provides numerous health benefits, like improving balance, strengthening core muscles and boost your team’s mood.
Cycling either on a stationary or moving bike is a fun and healthy form of low-impact exercise. Whether your team decides to schedule a bike ride around the neighborhood or bike to a local market, shops or restaurant, it’s a great activity for all ages. It’s easy on muscles as long as your athletes make sure they take smooth paths and coast at a safe speed. They can also enjoy riding on a stationary bike at home or at the gym.
4. Walking or Jogging
Your team can enjoy their active recovery day by taking an easy walk or jog outside or on a treadmill. They can enjoy this activity by listing to their favorite music or podcast or watching their favorite show on the treadmill as they raise their heart rate. Getting in some movement throughout their day is important, and they can take it easy on their body while going for a walk or light jog on their rest day.
Any form of light cardio provides health benefits. Walking or jogging can help improve circulation, strengthen muscles and brighten their mood.
Yoga is a popular workout for mindfulness and relaxation. This low-impact workout can help improve your team’s flexibility and strength and increase their focus as they flow through the motions and hold different positions. Practicing yoga is also a great way to boost your team’s mood and relieve stress. This activity is a perfect option to try on your team’s active recovery day.
6. Self-Myofascial Release
Self-myofascial release is a technique that uses tools like foam rollers or medicine balls to stretch different parts of your athletes’ bodies. It’s a simple way to make their body feel better by massaging sore muscles. Your team can find these tools at the gym or they can purchase their own to have at home.
7. Tai Chi
If your team wants to stay moving on their rest day, try tai chi. Tai chi is a form of martial arts, so it’s low-impact but still highly effective. This workout helps your team practice total-body awareness, along with strength building and balance. You’ll notice that tai chi consists of slow, flowing movements that promote relaxation and recovery from powerful workouts. Try out tai chi on your team’s next active recovery day to experience a unique and mindful exercise.
A fun throwback activity is making a comeback. Rollerblading is a great way to use various muscles and get your team up and moving on their active recovery day. Rollerblading is a low-impact activity that challenges motor skills and the brain. This activity can also promote blood circulation, allowing the body to actively recover.
9. Core and Hip Exercises
Many daily movements require the use of the hips and core. Both of these parts of the body include important muscles that your team should take care of, especially if they start feeling pain. Exercises like glute bridges, planks and fire hydrants focus on these areas. Have your team try this activity option on their next rest day.
10. Light Weightlifting
You may think your team should avoid all forms of weightlifting during their rest day, but they can still incorporate some light weights. Use light weights to accomplish high-rep exercises that promote blood flow and move muscles without harming them.
Find a HydroWorx Pool Near You for Your Athletes’ Rest Days
Rest days are essential for athletes and fitness enthusiasts. It’s best to let your athletes’ bodies rest so they can spend their day taking care of their recovering muscles. A great way to promote muscle repair and let your team relax on their rest day is by exercising or relaxing in a HydroWorx pool.
HydroWorx pools are perfect for rehabilitation and muscle recovery for athletes. Our pools are equipped to reach cold and warm temperatures — and soaking is one of the fastest ways to support muscle recovery. Some pools also feature massage hoses to massage muscle tissue and promote relaxation. Find a HydroWorx pool near you for your team’s rest day, or contact us today to learn more.