Man relaxing on rest day

10 Tips to Optimize Your Rest Days

8 min read


19 Mar 2024

Grab your cheat sheet

  1. Stay hydrated
  2. Breathe deep
  3. Try a little active recovery
  4. Go outdoors
  5. Eat properly
  6. Sleep well
  7. Stretch
  8. Engage your mind
  9. Foam roll it!
  10. Supplement right

Whether you’re a seasoned athlete, someone starting out on their fitness journey—or anyone in between—making the most of your rest days will help you smash your fitness goals consistently.

Some people neglect rest days because they see taking time off from training as a weakness. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

In our world, rest equals power. And by making the most of your rest days, you’ll bounce back stronger, more supple—and ready to take on the most gruelling of training sessions.

Here we’re going to look at ways you can optimise your rest days and, ultimately, squeeze every last drop of juice from your workouts.

Let’s dive in.

1. Stay hydrated

Rest day hydration is important. But why, exactly? Well, water is like a refreshing wave of renewal for your body after a tough workout. 

A healthy dose of H20 restores any lost fluids, supports muscle repair, and helps flush out any toxins so you can bounce back stronger and ready for your next epic training session. So, drink plenty of good old water on your rest days.

How much should I drink?

You should aim to drink between 12 to 15 standard cups or glasses of water on your rest days for the best results. Eating healthy water-based foods like watermelon and cucumber will also improve your recovery between sessions. 

2. Breathe deep

It may sound a little bit pie in the sky, but deep breath work can max out our rest days in a big way  (just ask Wim Hof). 

By weaving a little breathwork into your rest days, you’ll centre the mind while helping to relax your muscles. When you work out, you put your body through pretty intense strain—so learning how to fully relax will ease tight muscles and speed up the recovery process.

Research also shows that regularly indulging in breathing exercises can improve blood flow, improve your heart health, and boost your immune system. A real rest day triple threat.

Top tip: If you struggle with meditation and dedicated breathing exercises, activities like pilates, yoga, and tai chi will help you control your breath while conditioning your body on rest days.

3. Try a little active recovery

Woman meditating

Getting adequate rest on your days off is important. But, a little active recovery will work wonders for your body and mind.

By enjoying a little light physical activity, you’ll reduce the threat of muscle soreness, reduce lactic acid buildup, and keep your body in tip-top condition. It’s fun, too.

There are countless active recovery activities you can try to make the most of your rest days. Here are some of our favourites for your body-boosting consideration…

  • Swimming
  • Cycling
  • Walking or hiking
  • Jogging 
  • Rollerblading
  • Rowing
  • Light Stretching and conditioning routines

Top tip: Check out our essential guide on how weightlifting and yoga work together for insider advice on creating the perfect exercise routine.

4. Go outdoors

Without a doubt, one of the best ways to max out your rest days is to go outdoors. Even if the weather is a little on the sour side, lacing up your shoes, embracing the elements, and embracing the world around you is nothing short of magic.

A fine addition to any rest and exercise routine, immersing yourself in nature will ensure you reap the rewards of steady movement and mental well-being—the kind that will keep you balanced and motivated.

Even if it’s a few laps around your local park or a picnic at your local nature spot, heading outdoors is a perfectly empowering rest day activity. Give it a try.

5. Eat properly

Woman eating to recover

When it comes to hitting your fitness goals, regular physical activity is, well…essential. But if you don’t eat right, you’ll never reach your full potential.

So, in addition to powering up pre-workout, you need to get your rest day nutrition right. Getting your fill of healthy macronutrients (including plenty of lean protein) will give you energy, accelerate the repair of your muscle tissue, and optimise your body for that next big training session.

As an FYI, here’s a guide to your rest day macronutrient percentages …

  • Lean proteins: 40 to 60%
  • Good carbs: 20 to 25%
  • Healthy fats: 20 to 30%

Read: Our ultimate guide to sports nutrition to level up your rest day diet and smash your fuel yourself for success.

6. Sleep well

Okay, this may sound a bit misplaced when it comes to rest day advice—but getting your sleep hygiene right will have a hugely positive impact on the physical energy and mental clarity you have in your waking hours.

If you sleep well consistently, not only will you smash your training sessions, but you’ll also be able to make the very most of your rest days.

Here are some tips to help you level up your sleep hygiene and make the most of your rest days…

  • Aim to get seven to nine hours of sleep each night
  • Go to bed at a similar time every evening
  • Avoid eating or drinking alcohol around two hours before lights out time
  • Put away your screens around an hour before you head to bed
  • Set your bedroom temperature to around 18 degrees. That’s the slumber sweet spot

7. Stretch

If you’re looking for a light workout that helps you squeeze every last drop of juice from your rest days, getting into a solid stretching routine will work wonders.

Stretching your muscles on any rest day will help your body recover better while priming your body for the physical demands of your next epic workout.

Woman stretching

So, to tackle the repetitive stress that regular exercise can place on your body, reduce your risk of injury, and keep yourself in tip-top condition, here are some exercises you should try…

  • Hamstring stretch: Loosen up those tight hamstrings with an easy forward fold or seated stretch.
  • Hip flexor stretch: Open up your hips and relieve any post-workout tension with long lunges or kneeling hip flexor stretches.
  • Chest opener: Counteract slouching and poor posture with chest stretches like the doorway stretch or a yoga cow face pose.
  • Lower back release: Ease any lower back stiffness with gentle twists or the classic child's pose.
  • Calf Stretch: Keep your calves spritely and flexible with standing calf stretches or a downward dog variation.
  • Shoulder and neck relaxers: Banish any looming tension headaches with shoulder rolls, neck stretches, and gentle shoulder stretches.
  • Full-body stretch routine: Combine all of these stretches for a ‘cover all bases’ full-body routine that will get your body into gear during those all-important rest days.

8. Engage your mind

Did you know? Regular brain training will improve your ability to tackle daily tasks and solve practical problems. A sharper mind can also improve your exercise performance. 

As you’ll no doubt know, your psychological wellbeing is linked to your physical health. So, when you’re enjoying a well-earned rest day, you should indulge in some brain training.

By getting stuck into a mentally stimulating challenge, you’ll thrust yourself into the present, which will help you relax. Regularly engaging your mind will also keep you mentally sharp, strong, and focused—which will help you navigate even the most gruelling of training sessions with confidence.

So what can you do to get your brain into gear and your mind moving (as well as your body)? Here are some quick cognitive training tips for your inspiration…

  • Do a crossword or some Sudoku puzzles
  • Try a dedicated brain training or problem-solving app
  • Start a new book or listen to educational podcasts
  • Build a piece of furniture or try some DIY
  • Learn how to play a musical instrument or pick up a new skill
  • Soak up a little culture by visiting a gallery or a museum

9. Foam roll it!

If you’re feeling a bit sore after a workout or exercise session, a spot of foam rolling will help you avoid muscle cramps and recover properly. It can be quite relaxing too.

Foam rolling will make your muscles feel like a million dollars—it will also help you keep your body in peak physical condition without straining yourself in any way.

So, find a comfy spot on the floor, grab your foam roller, and work your body. Gently roll out those tight spots and knots, focusing on your calves, quads, lower back, and hamstrings.

Take it slow, listen to your body, breathe through any discomfort, and enjoy the sweet relief as tension melts away. Your muscles will thank you later, and you'll feel completely refreshed, ready to crush your next workout.

FYI: If foam rolling isn’t your thing, treat yourself to a sports massage. Or try giving yourself a soothing self-myofascial massage.

10.  Supplement right

Man using recovery supplement

Last but certainly not least, to get the most from your rest day and fill in any nutritional gaps as you go about your day, taking the right supplements is a good idea.

Not only will a good supplement help to keep your body moving, but it will also help you fight muscle fatigue and accelerate your recovery.

Coupled with proper rest, proper nutrition and a healthy dose of active recovery, weaving a quality supplement into your rest day routine will keep you gliding towards your fitness goals.

Smash your goals with Crazy Nutrition

Power up your athletic performance and make every rest day count with our Ultimate Fitness Stack.

This triple-threat bundle has everything you need to fuel up before a workout, push yourself to the max, and recover well on those all-important rest days.

Make this a staple part of your fitness regime, and you’ll reap no end of body-boosting rewards. Go get some

We wish you the very best of luck on your fitness journey, and for more training tips as well as insider fitness advice, check out the official Crazy Nutrition blog.