I always tell clients that rest days are where the real muscle building happens. During strength workouts we are damaging and stressing the muscles so that they need to repair themselves and come back stronger. If you are constantly stressing your muscles, they have no time to grow! Here are my recommendations for a few recovery factors so that you get the most out of your training:
I recommend at least one rest day per week are a bare minimum and more than 4 rest days is pushing it 🙂
The real key with your whole workout plan is finding the right balance of work and rest. If you’re working out 3 days a week, you’ll have plenty of time to recover. If you’re working out 5 or 6 days a week, you’ll want to make sure you don’t overdo your training volume since there’s less time to rest (or do an upper/lower split since the work will be spread out).
What do you do on a rest day you might ask? Obviously REST, but you can still get steps, do yoga or sit in a sauna.
Also, when it comes to rest days, your body will tell you if you’ve gone too long without one. If you’re feeling super fatigued (especially if you’re not sleeping well or very stressed) that’s your body telling you to take a day or two off.
The research on stretching is pretty inconclusive, so I think it’s reasonable to conclude that the best stretching protocol varies person to person.
Feel like you have tight hips, hamstrings or shoulders? Add in a few mobility exercises or stretches and assess your progress after a few weeks. Feel a little tight all over? Do a little stretching flow at the end of your workout (like mine in the video above).
If in doubt, most of us have tight hip flexors and shoulders/chest due to sitting posture. So a few hip and chest openers every very days would likely be a great idea and definitely won’t hurt!
You could be really pushing yourself with amazing workouts, but if you’re not giving your body the fuel it needs to recover — you won’t see any progress.
The most important macronutrients for recovery are carbs and protein. Contrary to what we previously thought, nutrient timing post-workout isn’t super important for the regular gym goer. As long as you get in adequate nutrition in your day (a 24 hour period), you’re fine. However, if you do feel quite fatigued right after your workouts timing a high carb, moderate protein meal or snack after you workout might be a good idea.