The key to supersizing your supersets? Recovery. Rest days are as important as leg days, and scheduling time for muscle repair means you can come back stronger. And no, rest doesn’t mean flipping a switch and spending the day on the couch—it’s about finding ways to treat your body for its hard work all week long. On our rest day agenda: Healthy meals of protein-rich foods, lots of hydration (of course), and a recovery treatment. Check out five of our favorite ways to restore our bodies today so we can push further tomorrow. Remember: You know your body best, so pick what will work for you and talk to your doctor if you need to. Let’s get it.
You’ve heard of ice baths—but have you stepped into a cryo chamber yet? Proponents of this type of recovery love the ice-cold air (-160 degrees or colder) that reduces inflammation and aids recovery. If you think you can hack it, enter the chamber for a three-minute session costing about $65 a pop. It’s a test of mental stamina as much as physical, but you’ll come out feeling refreshed and cool as ice.
2. Leg Compressions
Squats got you sore? The solution is a good, long squeeze. Believed to increase blood flow and reduce soreness, compression therapy is a method of recovery loved by world-class athletes and amateurs alike. Step into some hip-high compression boots for a 30-minute session that will squeeze and release your legs to get the blood flowing and deliver oxygen needed to expedite muscle repair. It feels a bit like a giant blood-pressure sleeve and looks a lot like hockey goalie gear. All you have to do is sit there and reap the benefits. One session will cost you roughly $30.
Image courtesy of Therabody
It’s time to get out the Theragun and get the good vibes flowing. Theragun looks like a high-powered drill with a soft ball on the end, and it uses percussion therapy to directly target muscles with intense soft tissue massage in rapid, hammering movements. It offers the same effect as your foam roller, increasing blood flow, reducing muscle inflammation, and (gloriously) breaking up muscle knots and tension.
4. Gua Sha
It’s been used for hundreds of years, and proponents of gua sha say it’s effective for everything from athletic recovery to defining your cheekbones. But what is it? Gua sha is a traditional Chinese healing method that involves using a ceramic tool, like a spoon, to gently scrape skin and stimulate blood flow to muscles while draining the lymphatic system. You’ll find everyone from estheticians to athletes using their gua sha tools faithfully, and the evidence shows that it actually works. A 2019 study found that the practice benefitted weight lifters by promoting recovery from fatigue and inhibiting muscle injury as well. Good to note: You don’t need to scrape hard for gua sha to be effective.
5. Professional Stretching
Give your post-workout stretch a serious upgrade with a rest-day stretch from a pro. Much like booking a massage session, working with a professional physical therapist lets you relax while letting someone else do the work. And, while you may think you’re stretching enough, a trained professional can help push you beyond your usual range of motion to help you really lengthen your muscles and increase your flexibility. All you have to do is lay there while they push, pull, lift and contort your body into positions to stretch you out, increase blood flow, reduce stress, and break down muscular knots.