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 “Rest-Day Recommendations” by Abi Reiland – The Box Magazine

For those addicted to the rigorous activity a CrossFit workout offers, a sense of boredom can become a rest-day damper. That feeling in the back of your head that you just can’t shake, like you’re missing out on something that will make you a better athlete and potentially improve your speed or strength or stamina. It’s enough to send some people into a panic. But truth be told, rest days are an imperative part of fitness. An athlete can only go so long before his body rebels in a dire attempt to recover. Varying the way in which you rest gives your body some time to recuperate while keeping your mind at ease. Here are my rest-day recommendations.

– Consequences of not taking rest days. –
Unless you’re an alien life form (or Rich Froning), your body needs a break. CrossFit’s structured beatings actually break down muscle in an attempt to build it back up, but if that rest period isn’t put into place, the breakdown begins to hinder development. Fatigue, strength losses and injury are all major concerns when an athlete is too active at an intense and demanding level. And overtraining will not only hinder your physical abilities but also have a detrimental effect on your mental state. Digressing is never an experience athletes embrace. When your body won’t operate up to your standards, the mind takes a toll as well. Frustration, irritability and lack of concentration rear their ugly heads in cases of physical and mental exhaustion. So do everybody a favor and take a day off.

– When to take rest days. –
Many trainers will suggest rest days be scheduled every 4th day. 3 days on, 1 day off, repeat. For folks with a little flexibility in their schedule, this is a fantastic option and ensures your body is allowed some relaxation. However, for those who have a set schedule that binds them to particular days and availability, 2 days rest per week is a respectable regimen. For personalities that prefer predictable structure, those days can be set. Perhaps every Thursday and Sunday you take a day off. Personally, I listen to my body. If I feel great, I’m going to workout. And if I’m feeling run down or extra sore, I might lay low for that day. Develop a rest strategy that works for you and your fitness goals, and as your athleticism progresses, adjust accordingly. Just be sure you recognize the messages your body sends you to avoid overdoing it.

– How to spend rest days. –
There is no right way to spend a rest day. If the couch is calling your name, pop in a couple movies, eat a bag of M&Ms and enjoy the lethargy. But to ease your tight muscles and maximize your recovery results, take a lightly active approach. I like to treat my rest days as a form of therapy for any aches, so I try to incorporate stretching, light cardio, or maybe yoga. And to spice things up, it’s always fun to throw in some adventurous activities like hiking, swimming or a day of retail therapy with some speed-walking and light lifting at the mall. Get your heart rate up, work on some mobility and break a small sweat. Seems only fitting given the fact that CrossFit embraces constant variation. And after some rehab, back to business.

The addiction to your newfound fitness is inevitable. But exhibit some common sense and caution to maintain the health you so desire. Going overboard will do you more harm than good and will sabotage your mission for a stronger, faster, fitter you. Your body gives you everything it’s got in a workout, so return the favor and learn to embrace your rest days, regardless of when and how you spend them.