Girls, we all know it’s hard sometimes to take a rest day. If anybody loves the feeling of a real sweat inducing HIIT sessions it’s us. But, rest days are an essential part of levelling up our bodies – even if we don’t always believe it.
It’s hard to gauge when exactly we need or even want a rest day. Monday we go to CrossFit because our WOD squad starts the week right! Well, it can’t be Tuesday because that’s our day for bootcamp and Wednesday we hit boxing…
Sound familiar? Hell yeah it does, you can’t be stopped, girl. So, hear us out when we’re saying you haven’t got to stop. Maybe just throw in a little downward dog and warrior pose once or twice a week.
Trust us when we say, both your body and mind will love you for it.
Why We Need Rest Days – Both Physically and Mentally
If you haven’t worked out yet we like to get down and dirty with our training. That means a lot of sweat, hair in our face and smashing personal bests.
However, we’ve learnt to take a rest day – and you should too. Here’s a bunch of reasons why:
- To recover
- To refocus
- To refuel
- To socialize
- To re-energize
Rest days are the time you give you and you body to recover from the stress of exercise. Without them, our obsession with spin classes would quickly take over, never allowing a chance for us to heal.
When we workout, we create tiny micro-tears in our muscles. Over the next one to three days after these muscle tears will repair themselves and grow stronger.
If we never took a day off, there would be a never ending cycle of tearing without repairing. Kind of like breaking down a wall without ever stopping to rebuild it higher.
Also, exercise builds up tension in our muscles and tendons. You’ll have often heard of this tension in muscles called knots, which if left not properly treated, can really suck.
Excessive tightness in muscles can lead to bodily imbalances, resulting in bad posture, pain and greater risk of injury. A rest day can help us to unwind and give our bodies a chance to relax and release this tension – more on this later.
Finally, we all need a god damn break every once in a while mentally. If you’re like us and think about fitness from the moment you wake up, it can become exhausting.
A rest day gives us the chance to think about other things by reading a book, visiting family or even just catching up with Ru Paul on Netflix.
How rest day yoga can get us to our goals quicker
However, if you thought we were going to tell you to block off a whole 24hr from your diary to binge Ben&Jerry’s on the couch, listen in. That’s not how we roll when we’re chasing body changing gains. Not even for one tasty minute.
What we will tell you is that like anything in fitness, our rest days can always be taken to the next level. So, you can have this life hack for free, because we want all the ladies out there to be stronger than ever – in both body and mind.
Yep, that’s right, implement yoga into your rest day routine. It’s really that simple and even a little could have you reaching those goals a lot sooner than you think.
Yoga has amazing benefits to both the physical body and our mental wellbeing. It’s calming, relaxing, improves mobility and can also be challenging.
Yoga is proven to improve mental wellbeing
If that wasn’t enough, a 2017 study even showed yoga to be effective at reducing symptoms of depression.
This is great news for women who lead quite hectic and busy lives due to yoga counteracting pesky cortisol.
Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is released into the bloodstream as part of our fight or flight mechanism.
Back when we were cave women, this release would have been super useful in helping our bodies fight off the threat of a sabre tooth tiger for example. But, today we can be loaded with cortisol by stress inducing factors like traffic, rude co-workers or even a bad Wi-Fi connection.
Too much cortisol leads to tissue breakdown and the conversion of protein to glucose. Which, obviously, ruins our chances of kick ass gains.
Did we mention it makes sleep a whole lot harder too? We all know how a bad nights rest can ruin our performance in the gym.
Yoga on a rest day can help fight off the release of excessive cortisol in your body. It’s mindful breaths, deep stretches and clear intention often leaves practitioners super relaxed.
Meaning you’ll be rested, relaxed and ready to face whatever workouts the week ahead holds. Even those crazy Monday morning AMRAP’s become easier with a mindful meditation of sun salutations.
In the words of Olivia Newton John – let’s get physical
Hey, we said this is a life hack, so obviously the good stuff doesn’t just stop there.
Yoga is great for the physical body too. Here’s why…
- Improves flexibility
- Increases mobility
- Improves bone health
- Increases blood flow
- Boosts immunity
- Releases tension throughout the body
The above list is just a handful of the physical benefits yoga possesses. Maybe we’ll write a whole article on all of them one day. However, for now we just wanted to share the overarching good news.
As your once or twice a week yoga habit begins to show, you’ll start to feel less aches and post-workout pains. You can thank your improved flexibility for this. Now, your tight muscles will not pull as hard against their respective joints – especially at rest.
You’ll also find that you can reach a little further, turn a little sharper and even stand a little taller. This’ll all be down to your increased mobility which you’ll have worked on through various poses.
It might not sound like a big deal but being able to move through a full range of motions in your joints is a big must for us girls. Especially if we’re looking to shape up, build curves and be as strong as we can be.
The more we can move a muscle, the more internal tension and metabolic stress it will experience. In short, we’ll be able to create extra microtears that we may not have been able to with less movement.
Yoga helps to stop us getting sick
Yoga also naturally provides a brilliant boost to our immune system. How so? When we squeeze, contract and stretch our muscles, we encourage the draining of lymph.
Well, this also happens when we move around our internal organs. Something which happens as we switch from pose to pose.
Lymph plays a vital role in supporting the lymphic system, which helps fight infection. Also, being a total badass, the lymphic system kills cancerous cells, which’re obviously dangerous to our health.
If we become sick, we should do everything we can to recover, which makes another HIIT class a big no-no. We repeat – stay away from those sneakers!
Not only will working out make us worse, but we risk the chance of infecting our other gym buddies. Which, if you enjoy your popularity, is best to be avoided.
Therefore, by embracing the power of the pose on a rest day, we can keep ourselves in the game for longer. Meaning more time better spent working hard for our dream physique.
Now, go downward dog for a better deadlift
To summarise, all signs point to the fact that us women should be spending time on the mat. Even a short ten to fifteen minute cycle is enough for us to feel the benefits. As they say, something is always better than nothing.
Not only does yoga rehab our joints and keep our muscles fresh, it also stops us getting sick. Three things that’ll undoubtedly go a long way in helping us break through any fitness barrier.
Also, let’s not forget that yoga is still a type of exercise. So, there’ll be no need to feel bad skipping a squats session just once a week.
Finally, by still being active with yoga on our rest day we affirm our lifestyle choices. It’ll remind us that we’re still on this fitness journey, and our rest day ultimately has a purpose.
P.S. – Remember, rest day and not cheat day. Forget about donuts and embrace the healing power of a deep breath in downward dog.