Rest Days. The Holy Grail.

By Leave a comment

You killed your workout and now you can’t walk… let’s talk about the importance of REST DAYS!

Side note – did someone say take a rest day?! HOLLA!!!

After spending time in the gym – regardless if you’re new to it or a pro – you’re bound to get sore once in awhile.  Why do our muscles get sore? We’ve all experienced it to some extent and let’s be honest…  it’s kind of the worst. 

Contrary to popular belief, it is NOT a buildup of lactic acid or your body yelling “you’re out of shape!” When you complete a more intense workout than normal, or push yourself to try a new type of exercise, your body pushes against you for the next 2-3 days (sometimes longer if you really got after it). Get ready – here’s our lesson of the day…

Why do muscles get sore? And how can we speed up recovery?
Muscles get sore due to microscopic damage (tears) and inflammation to muscle fibers, which in turn are a pain in your butt (or whichever muscle you recently worked. Yep, not only are we smart over here, but we’re pretty funny too…). The culprit? Eccentric contractions. This type of movement lengthens your muscle as it contracts.  For example: the lowering movement of a bicep curl, or the lowering into a squat. Regularly changing up your routine works all muscles and gives them a chance to recover, which will build more endurance and strength in the long run.  So – million dollar questions – how do muscles recover, and how can we help speed up the process (puhhh-lease!)?

The Badge of Honor…
After all your hard work in the gym, it feels good to be sore and be on a routine of working out almost every day.  When I’m sore, it feels almost like an accomplishment… and I want to keep pushing through! But hang tight for a second – as much as we like that “badge of honor” of being sore from a killer workout, forgetting to add a rest day into your routine could pose a HUGE problem… (Oops.)

HOW TO: Incorporating Rest Days
Resting and repairing those torn muscles are just as important to your overall goals as that workout was in the first place. And let’s be clear – “rest” doesn’t mean sit on the couch for a whole day and binge watch Netflix (uhhhh… guilty…). However, unwinding both physically AND mentally is a huge part of recovery! Resting your mind can recharge your whole being and set you up for success so you are ready to take on whatever comes at you. On the physical side, taking an ACTIVE rest day is a great way to work through the pain from those muscles that are ‘angry’ at you.

Mental Rest Ideas:
Read a book
Take a nap
Hang out and let your mind wander (this is good for the mind AND the soul…)

Active Rest Day Ideas:
Foam Rolling (we all know this one hurts like a *b*, but it is worth it. Trust us.)

SLEEP: The Final Frontier
Sleep is a CRITICAL part of both the mental and physical recovery from a solid workout. I’d be willing to be that MOST of us don’t sleep as much as we should (a significant number of Americans are chronically sleep deprived. Scary.). But here’s why it’s so important: when you are deep in sleep, your energy consumption is lowered, allowing all that healthy good-for-us food we ate during the day to go to work and efficiently build muscle. Literally – our muscles are healing themselves as we sleep! So – moral of the story – don’t sleep enough? Body can’t properly restore the damaged muscles, which means… MORE SORE. Booooo.

“Healthy Good-For-You Food”… Let’s Not Skip This One
And remember how I said all that “healthy good-for-us food”? Yeah. That’s mission-critical to this whole “goal achieving” thing we’re up to… But y’all, everything in MODERATION. If you are craving ice cream, but are *too afraid* to eat it because you killed it in the gym, you have to remind yourself about the 80/20 rule. If you’re eating nutritious, healthy, non-processed foods as much as you can for 80% of the time, then the other 20% when you go for the ice cream or the double-stuff Oreos (don’t look in the back office here…), IT’S OKAY. Be smart, do you, and don’t deprive yourself. Wrapping up the food section… PROTEIN on days you’re going to rock it out = GOOD. It helps muscles rebuild and recover (boom shaka laka). And don’t forget to hydrate! (This one can escape us sometimes, but without it… we’ll wither away. Not immediately, but I’m telling you… don’t push it.)

So just remember…
That whole “no pain = no gain” thing? Yeah. GIGANTIC MYTH. Any movement is good movement, and we fully believe that the fastest way to a healthy, happy, most WELL-ROUNDED version of you is through moderation and equipping yourself with KNOWLEDGE so you can hit your goals! Now get moving, eat some ice cream, take a nap, and just keep going! You got this girl – we believe in YOU!

All the best and Keep It PINK,

The Pink Iron Team

Resources used:


Article contributed by: Brittany Miller & Laura Owen
Brittany joins the Pink Iron team as a recent ‘transplant’ to Utah. She is a California native, and is grateful the weather is starting to warm up in Utah because she was really starting to miss the beach. In addition to having an amazing daughter and husband, Brittany works at Pink Iron as our Front of House staff and primary blog writer. We are so grateful to have this kick-butt lady on the team!  ||  Laura loves being the owner of Pink Iron, and is beyond excited to have the PI team start strong in Utah. With a goal of making Pink Iron a household name, she strives every day to make the lives of every woman around her the best they can be. A husband and twin daughters motivate Laura to empower others to achieve their dreams DAILY.


  • ElyseReply

    I love this article! I’m so guilty of missing rest days not knowing how vital it is to our health and growth in fitness! Thanks for the great post!

    • pinkadminReply

      We’re so glad you liked this post, Elyse! 🙂 And hey – we’re all guilty of it. Keep getting better, it’s all a journey! <3

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.