What to do on rest days

What to do on rest days: Recovery guide

Amon Fearon - June 16, 2022

While getting in your training sessions is essential to building strength and stamina, rest days are equally crucial to your progress. Whether you're a gym rookie or seasoned athlete, our recovery guide reveals what you can  do on rest days to maximise your health and marginal gains to set you apart from the rest.


How many rest days should you have a week?

Generally speaking, you should take two rest days a week for maximum recovery. However, this depends on several factors such as age, diet, and how active you are. If you’re totally new to the gym or a sport, you might want to take it a little easier while your body adapts to changing demands. Commit to a couple of intensive activities a week and see how you get on.

If you’re not used to vigorous exercise, your muscles are more likely to need longer between sessions to recover. So, build up to it. Start with two activity days per week, then make it three, then four until you hit five.

If you’re already exercising five days a week, that’s when those all-important two days a week come into play. Make sure to schedule some proper rest days so as not to overdo it.


Why are rest days important?

Rest days are important because they give your body time to recover. Not only does this prevent potential injuries, it also promotes healthy muscle recovery and growth. Here are a few more benefits of rest days for your body:

  • Alleviates muscle aches and pains caused by working out.
  • Replenishes your body’s glycogen levels for much-needed energy.
  • Gives your mind a break, because training is mental as it is physical.
  • Helps towards better, longer sleep.


What to do on rest days

A lot of people look forward to rest days as it’s their chance to take it easy. While it’s okay to take time off to catch up on your favourite Netflix show, try to do something at least a little active. In fact, you may have heard rest days referred to as active recovery days, which is a much better way of looking at it. Some popular rest day activities include:

  • Yoga
  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Foam rolling and stretching

Active recovery doesn’t even have to look like exercise. You could be playing a game of golf with your friends or taking a leisurely stroll around the shopping centre. Just make sure to keep your body moving, no matter how low-key that may be.


Light exercise for rest days

If you’re not the kind of person to relish a day on the sofa and want to get out there, even on rest days, there are a lot of light exercises for rest days you can give a go. For example:

  • Hiking
  • Cycling
  • Low-intensity jogging
  • Any kind of casual game, like non-competitive cricket, football, badminton etc.

Be driven to perform but remember not to overtrain, no matter how tempting it may be. Your rest days should leave you feeling refreshed and ready for your next workout. You shouldn’t be waking up after a rest day feeling tired with severely aching muscles. Save your energy towards making meaningful improvements in the gym or in the sports you’re training.


What to eat on rest days?

If you’re tracking your food and nutrients, it’s worth noting that you’ll need fewer calories on your rest days than you do on your active days. That’s simply because your body is expending fewer calories as you’re less active. With that said, your metabolism stays elevated for a while after vigorous aerobic exercise so consume plenty of calories to maintain energy levels. Heavy lifting may warrant a meal shortly after the session.

Even on rest days, you’ll still need to keep on top of your protein. Becoming a better athlete requires discipline. It’s no good hitting your protein goal on workout days to then let them slip on rest days. After all, protein provides the building blocks for protein synthesis to rebuild muscle tissue, which can typically take 24-48 hours. To maintain your protein levels, try to consume 20-30g of protein every 2-4 hours throughout the day to regulate the body’s recovery.

So, what else should you be eating on rest days to maintain your hard work throughout the week? Well, you’ll need to be eating complex carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, oats and rice, to name a few. It’s also paramount that you stay on top of your hydration – drink plenty of water!


What to wear on rest days?

Castore organic sweatshirts

However you plan to spend your rest days, everyone needs something comfortable to kick back in. If you’re going easy, a sublimely soft loungewear fleece will help you sink into the sofa. Similarly, lightweight, breathable, loose-fitting tracksuits make unrivalled everyday outfits. Castore tracksuits are the perfect blend of practicality and style so you're ready for any occasion. Some sports like golf can require specific attire for a smarter look but you still want max comfort, in which case you'll want to shop for premium sportswear by activity i.e golf apparel.