In our September series we have already looked at the importance of having a plan in order to make it easier to stick to your exercise plans and goals. But what if you are stuck in a rut and have lost your exercise mojo? We are ready to help you shake things up and get your workout routine working for you again. To do this we need to consider not just the exercise you will be doing, but also the rest your body needs.

One of the most common things I see in fitness enthusiasts and clients, is a failure to schedule in enough, or sometimes any, rest time. I am guilty of this too, when you are flying and your routine is intense you are buzzing from the exercise, it’s tempting to fit in another class or another run to keep you on that high. But this is a sure way to head for injury or burnout. Your body will cope for a while, but exercise without specific rest periods can be detrimental to building strength and seeing improvements.

How to make rest part of your exercise plan

1. Schedule specific rest days

You need to start being as strict about rest days as you are about making a class. It is just as important and should be scheduled in, in the same way.

2. Define your rest days

A rest day doesn’t necessarily mean no activity at all. It often means a change of activity, perhaps a less intense activity where your heart rate is not high and you are using different muscles from your regular work out. Perhaps a walk or a leisurely swim instead of a HIIT session? A rest day should always include some kind of movement as enables active circulation, taking fresh nutrients to your recovering muscles.

3. Sleep

Make sure you get between 7 and 8 hours sleep a night. Everyone has different needs, but most people cannot thrive on less than 7. You may hear people say they only need 4-5 hours, but their body is surviving not thriving.

4. Improve your sleep quality

If you are lacking in hours to sleep, try to make the sleep you do get, good quality sleep. Easy to say, I appreciate! But sticking to a few good habits, like having the same bed time and waking up time every day (even at the weekends), and keeping all screens and devices out of the bedroom, makes it much easier for your body to find a natural sleep rhythm in our busy lives.

5. Benefits of protein

It’s important that your body has the things it needs to recover and ultimately gain strength during your rest periods. Eating protein directly after a workout provides your body with the amino acids it needs to build and repair muscles. We will be looking more at nutrition in our next blog and how this can help your body recover and I’ll be sharing some of my favourite recovery recipes to help recovery too.

6. Re-assess your schedule at regular intervals

Faster recovery occurs in well trained athletes. As you get fitter your body becomes more efficient at recovering and thus

your training schedule (including rest days) should be re-assessed on a regular basis as your training continues.

7. Listen to your body.

If you feel like you need a rest day, you probably do. Even if your schedule says it’s a training day, have a rest, your body will thank you for itand you’ll see the benefit in your next session. For me, learning to listen to my body and override my training schedule is one of the hardest things to do, but if I ignore my body it’s worse! I crash and burn and end up with an extended period of unscheduled rest days, away from the exercise I love, unable to complete my training plan anyway.

How many rest days and how much rest your body needs in between your work out sessions is ultimately up to you. You know your body best and you know how hard you can push without threat of injury or burnout. A good rule of thumb is to have at least 2 rest days per week. My physio always used to say to me that you make the most progress during your rest days, the workout is the stimulus but the rest is when your body builds and improves. Planned rest is just as important as planned exercise.

Join us again next week on the blog where we will be looking at how nutrition and hydration can work alongside your rest days and how they can both help in your body’s recovery.