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8 Things I Do on a Rest Day for Muscle Recovery

These are the best things you can do on an active recovery day.

As much as I love working out, there are days where both my mind and body are telling me that we need to take a pause. If you’re experiencing the same, you should totally lean into that and know when it’s time to give yourself a break and have a rest day.

It’s absolutely necessary to give yourself a break. You definitely don’t have to play into the notion that you have to work out seven days a week, multiple times a day, in order to meet your fitness goals. I workout 4-5 times a week. So what do I do on the other days? I rest, typically in the form of an active recovery day. Rest days are important because they support and strengthen your immune system, allow your muscles to recover and grow, reduce the risk of injury, help you sleep, and keep you motivated!!

Here are some things I like to do on a rest day:

  1. Go for a walk first thing in the morning. I love getting fresh air right when I wake up. It gets the blood flowing and oxygen pumping. Since I would normally work out first thing in the morning, on rest days, just exposing yourself to natural light first thing in the morning helps wake up your body and mind naturally.
  2. Spend time in the sauna. My boyfriend and I just got a new sauna for our house and it has been life-changing. Before I start my day, I like to spend about 30 minutes there, reflecting and thinking about my goals for the week. I don’t take my phone with me, so I can fully relax and detox while I’m flushing out all of those toxins, supporting my muscle and joint recovery, and helping to relieve stress.
  3. Coffee up. When I’m done with the sauna I like to make myself a cafe-level coffee! I love making coffee at home. I have a frother that I love to use to make it feel like I’m drinking sweet cream foam from Starbucks.
  4. Eat a great breakfast. I love making something that is filling and comforting, something like my perfect oatmeal recipe or some type of egg scramble packed with my favorite veggies and lean protein. This just helps set the tone for the day and keeps me on track for my normal eating schedule. Do not eat less just because you’re not working out.
  5. Move and stretch. Even though it’s a rest day, I still like to move my body, even just for a few minutes. So I will usually do a slow recovery or stretch routine (I have tons on my app if you need some ideas and I also include a quick five-minute recovery flow, or see one here! https://youtu.be/C9-vbFe2EnU ) On rest days it’s especially important to make sure you stretch out and give attention to anything in your body that isn’t feeling right. Get that blood flowing a bit, allow your muscles to recover and get ready for your next workout.
  6. Always stay hydrated! Just because you are not sweating or doing a hard workout that day doesn't mean you don’t need water. Drink as much water as you would normally do on a regular day.
  7. Use a body massager. I love a deep tissue massage gun to ease tension in my muscles and make sure they’re ready to go crush my workout the following day.
  8. Make sure you get a good sleep. Sleep is such an important part of recovery and sometimes when you are constantly on the go, trying to keep up with work, your social life, commitments, working out and everything else in between, sleep can sometimes end up on the back burner. Be mindful about your sleep and try to get it on rest days.

So how many rest days per week do you need? There’s honestly no magic formula to calculate the number of rest days each individual needs since it’s impacted by other factors such as intensity of workouts and how stressful your everyday life is, but listening to your body and monitoring your tiredness and soreness should help you figure out what’s right for you.

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Stay healthy everybody!

Xx Katie 

About the Series

Tune in every Monday and get tips to feel your best from Katie Austin herself. "I am beyond excited to announce the official launch of my weekly column in SI Swim, Katie’s Column. For those who don’t know me, I’m a fitness personality, creator of my own workout app (check it out here!) and host of my newly released Snapchat Originals and YouTube show called Healthy Hacks!! On top of that, I’m a 2022 SI Swim ROOKIEEEEE!!!!" says Austin.

"I want to bring you guys into my lifestyle. Each week, I’ll be sharing the best healthy recipes, free workouts, lifestyle tips, relationship advice and so much more! I want to bring you weekly positivity by sharing my accessible and realistic tips for you to feel like your best self every. single. freaking. day!"