When you set your fitness and wellness goals, you may have thought that you should plan to exercise every day to achieve them. But what about recovery days? Are they important? Is it good to include "off" days in your fitness routine? If so, why and how often? If you find yourself wondering about the answers to these questions, keep reading, I'll talk you through all of them.
WHAT IS A RECOVERY DAY?
A recovery day is sometimes synonymous with an "off" day; however, I want to encourage you to take the term "off" very lightly. On your recovery day(s) you shouldn't really take the day "off" and do nothing, but you should use it to recover and rest for your training the following week. Whether you are a personal training client, group fitness attendee, or just workout on your own, including a recovery day in your weekly fitness routine is very important. Your muscles will go through a lot of stress and strain during your workouts, and they need a day to rest, recover, and repair themselves before you go hard again the following week.
HOW MANY DAYS A WEEK SHOULD YOU WORKOUT?
Every one is different, and the number of days a week I use for workouts may not be as productive or beneficial to you. Personally, I try to use 6 days a week doing either cardio or strength training or a combination of the two. On the seventh day I rest and allow my body to recoup.
Personal Training Clients: Count your days with Flo as strength days and then spend your days away from the gym engaging in another form of activity, preferably cardio. Go for a morning jog and maybe an evening walk.
Group Fitness Attendees: If you are a 3x per week member, try to follow the same instructions as the personal training clients. If you are an unlimited member and attend class everyday, I encourage you to use your Sunday (no classes) as your recovery day.
STAYING ACTIVE ON RECOVERY DAYS
Now you're probably thinking, what should I do on a recovery day? STAY ACTIVE! Remember a recovery day is not an "off" day unless are experiencing some form of pain (soreness not included) or are directed to by a medical professional. The worst thing you can do on a recovery day is nothing, at least try to incorporate some stretching or if you have a foam roller you can roll all the muscles you've hit hard during your training. You can even participate in some light cardio like an easy jog or walk, or maybe try out some yoga movements. Recovery days are perfect for light, gentle movements that keep the body moving but not stressed.
WHAT IF I TAKE AN "UNPLANNED" DAY OFF?
We all have those days when we really don't do anything productive fitness-wise, or life happens and we get to caught up at work or with family and don't get our workout in. It's okay! There is grace in taking a day off completely, you just have to be prepared to experience a slight set back the next time you get back to the gym.
TAKE HOME MESSAGE
Recovery days are essential to reaching your fitness goals. If you are strategic about your "day off", the hours of work you put in this week at the gym will benefit you twice as much. Productive training isn't always about the heavy lifting or intense cardio, both of which are great, to see results you need to be willing slow down and rest some days too.