Head Fit n Fast Personal Trainer Nick Stock shares his tips on how you can make the most of out of your rest day and why it’s so important to include these days in your weekly workout regime.

I speak to a lot of members who are striving to reach their goal and feel a ‘rest’ day will prevent them from reaching that weight loss or strength goal in a timely manner and it will slow their progress. This could not be further from the truth.

Rest is one of the most important parts of training and we often neglect it for the thought of being lazy. Did you know that the word “rest” means in Latin to stand? Making sure you give your body and your mind the time it needs to recover is as critical as your weight session or the Qmax session you just did.

Rest is not just sleeping 7-8hrs or not doing anything for the day, rest is more to give the body time to heal and refresh. To help with that, if you can aim for 8-9hrs of sleep, this will help the brain repair; only when in REM sleep (beyond that 6 hrs of deep sleep) does the protein that have built up on the brain from the previous day start to be removed. REM sleep also boosts your Growth Hormone meaning you will build more muscle and burn more fat in an easier manner.

Below are some ways you can make the most out of your rest day – without feeling like you’re doing nothing all day long.

Mindfulness –

Mindfulness allows your body and mind to rest. When we are stressed from work, life and relationships, the hormone Cortisol is released and we start to store body fat. Doing a mindful activity starts to reduce that and helps us think more clearly through those situations. I have personally found yoga to be a great outfit, not only to open up my joints and give me greater range of motion, but to allow my thoughts to be collected and then sorted. I have found that the YB1, YB Yin and Pilates classes at Yogabar are great for this.

Light Cardio –

Along with mindfulness, a light yet long cardio session can be hugely helpful in helping the body repair. A huge part of healing is increasing blood flow, this sends new nutrition to the tissue and helps to get rid of tissue, toxins and waste products. So a long yet light cardio session, such as a coastal walk or a walk in the park can be a good option, getting outside will help you reconnect to your surroundings and clean your lunges. My personal preference is the Bondi to Coogee walk or a Blue Mountains Wentworth Falls hike here in Sydney.

Stretching –

Finally, stretching can be a great alternate to the heavy or even hardcore gym session. For me stretching encompasses a foam roller, massage balls or trigger point and myofascial stretching. All of these add the muscle tissue to lengthen and regain its full use and range. If you are super mobile and have a large amount of flexibility, I would spend a great deal of time on this. However, if like me you get tight, ache and pains when you don’t stretch and need to gain more mobility and flexibility, then spending 1-2 days per week focusing on stretching will support your end goals.

Personally I now spend 3-4 days lifting and doing my hard cardio and 1-2 days are spent on resting, whether that is yoga or myofascial stretching at home or in a class. As we age we need to give our bodies time to heal and recover as they do not rebound the same way as they once did, if you do take the time to rest not only will you be more likely to achieve your goals, you will also be able to get out of your body, at the gym, in the sporting arena and in life.