25 Rest Day & Recovery Goals

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April 14, 2023

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How would you describe your relationship with rest days? Perhaps you love them and look forward to having a chance to relax each week, or maybe you struggle to put the brakes on and feel restless on your days off of training. 

We get it - when life feels like it’s going a million miles an hour or you’re on a roll with your fitness progress, slowing down can actually be quite challenging.

But regardless of how you feel about them, rest days are an essential part of a well-structured workout routine, with the American Council on Exercise saying that prioritising recovery is crucial for performance and continued improvement. When you take the time to prioritise proper recovery, higher training volumes and intensities are possible without the negative effects of overtraining

Your rest days can help you reach your goals faster, avoid injury or fatigue, and allow time between workouts for muscle recovery - this is when they repair, adapt and become stronger! Taking regular days off from training can also give you some mental breathing space and the time for other things in your life that nourish your wellbeing

But if you’re new to the concept of rest days or you’re a goal-getter who loves the feeling of ticking things off your to-do list (even during your downtime), we’ve put together a list of recovery goals to help you get the most out of those all-important days off. Create your perfect rest day routine, or pick and choose what will serve you best each time.

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Rest day goals: Movement and muscle recovery

  • If you feel up to it, active recovery can be a great way to promote blood flow to your muscles and faster recovery. Having an active rest day doesn’t mean going for a run or scheduling another workout - instead, opt for low-intensity movement like walking, swimming or yoga.

  • Show some love to your muscles by stretching, foam rolling or using a massage gun for at least 10 minutes to ease some of the tension and promote muscle recovery.

  • Choose something from the On Demand tab of the Sweat app - you can filter it by Recovery to find restorative yoga sessions, foam rolling or rehab sessions from your favourite trainers.

  • Take a bath! Having a steamy soak in the tub can be an amazing way to relax your mind and muscles, but if you’re a big fan of cold therapy and ice baths, we can’t argue with that either. 

  • Have access to a sauna? Working up a sweat in a sauna can be a great way to promote rest and relaxation. You might also find it improves circulation and reduces muscle soreness! Read our guide to sauna benefits to better understand the health benefits and precautions you’ll want to take before getting steamy.

  • Get a massage. Unless your partner or flatmate doubles as a massage therapist, this one isn’t your cheapest option, but gosh is it good when your tender muscles need some TLC.

Rest day goals: Nutrition

  • Before we even get to food, start with hydration and aim for at least two litres of water. It’s so important to replenish the fluid lost when you’re training through your breath and sweat, and being well-hydrated aids many vital functions, such as lubricating your joints, keeping your body temperature stable and moving nutrients to where they’re needed. 

  • Eat a good source of protein at each meal to support muscle recovery and growth. 

  • Enjoy foods from all the food groups - carbs, fat and protein. In case you were wondering, just because you’re having a rest day doesn’t mean your diet should change dramatically.

  • Include fruits and vegetables in every meal or snack to bump up your nutrient and water intake.

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Rest day goals: Sleep

  • Have a sleep-in, turn off your morning alarm or go to bed earlier at night. Getting enough quality sleep is a crucial part of rest and recovery, so don’t neglect it!

  • Turn off your devices an hour before bed.

  • Napping can be a great way to refresh and recharge when you’re short on time. Take a nap during the day if you didn’t have a good sleep or don’t feel well rested.

  • Do something relaxing to set yourself up for a restful night, whether it’s a cup of tea, a warm shower or reading in bed.

  • Listen to a sleep meditation or sleep stories if you struggle to quiet your mind at bedtime.

Rest day goals: Joy and mental wellbeing

  • Enjoy at least 15 minutes of reading a book or magazine - we love these recommendations from trainer Brit Williams.

  • If you normally have your morning coffee or breakfast on the go, take the time to sit down and savour it slowly 

  • Listen to a podcast. 

  • Sit in the sunshine or spend time in nature. 

  • Take some time to quieten your mind with meditation, even if it’s just for five minutes.

  • Do something just because it brings you joy - watch a movie, draw, play video games, bake, listen to music, call an old friend or go out for brunch.

  • Rest your mind by turning off your notifications or turning it off for the entire day. Feel like you can’t stop checking your phone or want to dial back your screentime? It could be time to consider a digital detox

  • Clean up your social media feed to make sure scrolling is a feel-good experience.

  • Spend quality time with your loved ones, children or pets.

  • Write down a list of things you’re grateful for or proud of from the past week. According to a 2017 study, a regular gratitude practice can benefit your wellbeing and self-esteem.

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Ready for your first workout?

A rest day can be a whole lot more than just a day on the couch. Mix and match some of these ideas to plan a relaxing day that fills your cup and gives back to your body.

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A more empowered you starts with Sweat, and our editorial team is here to bring you the latest fitness tips, trainer recommendations, wellbeing news, nutritional advice, nourishing recipes and free workouts.

* Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. Sweat assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.


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