We've all heard it: “Rest days are for the weaklings!” Are they? Does taking a day off make you soft? Absolutely NOT! I have only heard of a few select individuals who did not need days off. They could train for years on end and never “need” a rest day. Having said that, would they have made more gainz in strength or physique with off days? I really do think so.
Off days, or rest days are something every athlete, lifter, weight loss, and novice exerciser NEEDS. How do I determine what day to take off? What should I do during my day off? Should I change my diet? Let’s dive into it:
What day is best? Well, ask yourself, what day is best for me to not exercise? Maybe you have a busy day during the week. Maybe you like having a day off to be “lazy.” YOU choose. There is no day off that is best for the entire population. It is what is best for you! My only recommendation is to plan for 1 day off each week. If you are vacationing and have a week of no exercise, maybe you decide to make up for it by exercising a few weeks straight before you go. Does that have to happen? NO. Will it make you feel better? If the answer is yes, do it!
What should I do during my day off? Well, I typically say to do something that involves family, friends, or something active. While these are great ideas NEAT is something which occurs during your day off. Check out that article HERE! Keeping busy is important for me on a day off because I think less and tend to be more active. Do what works for you! Find something you may “replace” with your workout if your day is slow, or if it’s a run-run-run day, focus on that!
Should I change my diet? It depends. If you are looking at your journey as a day-to-day excursion, then decrease calories on your day off. Less exercise= less calories burned = less food needed. This is hard to do when you are bored. Eating more is typically what people do on their day off. This is where a weekly calorie count would be a good idea. Determine how many calories you need for the week to achieve your goal. Decide what days you may binge and what days you will be strict. As long as the total calories align at the end of the week AND you aren’t a scale junkie, you WILL achieve your goals.
Thank you for investing in your health.
Joseph Champa, RD, CSCS