When you’re starting out with CrossFit it can be easy to get carried away and want to spend all your time in the box.
We get it! The high-energy environment, the post-workout high and seeing results can quickly become addictive. However, if you go too hard, too fast, you may find you end up setting yourself back.
Why rest days are important
When you take a day off, you are doing your body a big favour. Time away from the gym prevents overuse injuries by giving your muscles and body the time they need to recover.
As you work out, especially during CrossFit, you are creating small tears in the muscle. Taking rest days gives your muscles the chance to repair themselves and grow. You are also giving your immune system a chance to recharge so you don’t wind up with a cold because of over-exertion.
Rest is also important to prevent burn-out. Too much of anything, even something as good as CrossFit, can result in you feeling as though you have had enough and don’t want to go back.
How often should you rest?
When you are starting out at CrossFit it is important not to overdo it. Your coach may recommend a rest day in between each session while your body gets used to all the new activities.
As you progress, you will likely end up in a three on, one off routine, where you come in for your training sessions for three days in a row then take a day off. This will help maximise results while giving your body the time it needs to recover from your intense workouts.
In terms of injury, you may need more time off than usual. Speak with your trainer or your physiotherapist about the best approach for helping a sore muscle or ligament to recovery. They may recommend training at a lesser intensity than usual or a complete break for a period of a week or more.
What to do on your rest days
Rest days don’t mean reverting back to old, bad habits.
As you become more used to exercise, you may actually start to look on your rest days as annoying! All of a sudden, the prospect of exercise is stimulating rather than daunting.
If this is the case, mix up the exercises you do on your rest day. Take a yoga class, do some pilates or go for a leisurely bike ride. You may also wish to take a dance class or do an outdoor activity like surfing, paddle boarding or kayaking, to work out a different set of muscles.
On your rest day, don’t try to push your heart rate. You may find some simple stretching is all you need before the next work out. Another idea is to book a massage or physiotherapy session for your rest day, to smooth out any areas which have locked up during your workouts.
Get some decent sleep on your rest days to really help your body be in peak condition for your next workout. What’s more, you should pay attention to your diet, filling up on healthy snacks. Look for good sources of protein, iron and vitamins and reach for fresh, home-cooked meals and snacks.
On your rest day, you could also consider planning out the week or days ahead by doing some shopping and meal prepping. Staying organised is an integral part of your fitness routine and days away from the gym can be a big help.
For a balanced life, rest is as important as activity. Give yourself the time you need to regather your strength and you’ll find you perform better next time you’re at the gym.