What You Need To Know About Rest Days: Q+A With Coach PJ
Coach PJ is a FightCamp Trainer who, in addition to filming multiple FightCamp workouts each week, independently trains and coaches other boxers and fitness clients. He took a moment to chat with us about his boxing training, what a rest day looks like, and how he spends his rest days.
How Many Days a Week Do You Work Out?
Currently, I work out 6 days a week. My workout and training protocol is a little different from most athletes. I take my training extremely seriously, as well as my recovery.
How Many Times a Day Do You Work Out?
Each day that I work out, I usually break up my boxing training into two (2) or three (3) separate training sessions. Depending on the day, typically these workouts include a full-body (upper or lower body) strength and/or motion training session, a full cardio workout (usually boxing, jump rope, or roadwork), and a core training session or mobility and balance practice.
Is This a Typical Training Regimen For Most Boxers?
It depends on the fighter. Amateur fighters train differently than elite fighters, and elite fighters train differently than the greatest fighters of all time. I train how I feel is right for my schedule and my body. Plus, since I’m a coach, I aim to “practice what I preach” so I maintain a rigorous training schedule. But to better answer your question, most boxers do incorporate multiple workouts into their days with adequate rest in between.
What Is a Rest Day?
A rest day is not a total break from all activity. You can still move and take part in activity on a rest day. Rest days are necessary preventative measures and “maintenance” that we should all do regularly to take care of our body, instead of waiting until we are injured or sick. Sleep is also an important part of rest days and training in general.
How Often Do You Take a Rest Day?
Usually, I train hard six days a week, so the seventh day is my “rest day”. I take Sundays off.
I have definitely struggled to balance training and recovery. It’s hard when the activities that I find enjoyable are categorized as rigorous training, and it can be a challenge to find other activities to take their place. I take the entire day off, away from competitive activity, away from tough, enduring training, and instead focus on leveling up and improving my skill. Only just recently, I have started to enjoy my rest days.
What Do You Do On Your Rest Days?
Although taking an entire day off of intense training can be difficult and hard to adapt to, rest days are now becoming enjoyable for me. Some of my favorite rest day activities include walks on the beach, jogs in the park, bike rides, swims, and hikes. I can now find a decent balance between resting and training.
What Happens When You Train?
When you are rigorously training, you are essentially tearing your muscles apart. Technically, you are doing damage to yourself--but this damage is “good”. With adequate nutrition, care, and recovery, our bodies have the ability to bounce back. This is what makes your body stronger: building upon that foundation. That being said, the body then needs proper time to heal.
What Is Overtraining?
Overtraining is engaging in high-stress and rigorous activity for a prolonged period of time. Repetitive, high-intensity training can permanently damage your body and your muscles. Overtraining and injury occur when you don’t allow the body the necessary time to rebuild and recover after intense training and activity.
Are Rest Days Important For Muscle Growth?
Yes. When you are training, you are tearing apart your muscles and your body, so you need to let them repair and rebuild with rest and recovery. Muscle growth is a two-part process, and proper nutrition is also essential.
How Do You Know If You Need To Take a Rest Day?
First and foremost, you have to learn to listen to your body. The number of rest days that you take can change depending on your training. When you’re training hard, sometimes you may need to take more than one day per week of rest. Being sore is a good thing, but experiencing prolonged soreness is a sign that your body needs to rest and recover. If you have pain, especially in your joints, that is also a sign that you should take a break. Engaging in the same training and having the same pain or soreness over an extended period of time is not a good thing. Ultimately, having awareness of your body and paying attention to how you feel is the best way to know if you need to take a rest day.
Signs That You Should Take a Rest Day:
- Prolonged soreness
- Pain (especially in the joints)
- Inflammation (muscles, bones, joints, etc.)
What Happens When You Don’t Take a Rest Day?
When you don’t take a rest day, your body can be susceptible to overtraining. You can plateau on your goals, and overtraining will actually inhibit you from achieving your goals. Additionally, you can experience immune issues as you are physically wearing down your body and preventing it from being able to fight off disease and infection. Not resting can cause you to have issues sleeping as well.
Repercussions From Lack of Proper Rest & Recovery:
- Plateau on goals
- Decreased immunity
- Sleep issues
What Is Your Ideal Rest Day?
First of all, I would wake up after 9 to 12 hours of blissful sleep--of course, with the adequate amount of REM sleep (deep sleep) with little to no moving around. My body would be at that perfect temperature, somewhere between 64 and 66 degrees. Once I got up, I would start getting hydrated with some room temperature water with lemon or lime and maybe some tea, before going out on a short 10-minute walk for Vitamin D. When I got back, I would have some coffee and breakfast before settling in for some reading. Ideally, I would spend my rest day outside.
If I worked out the day before, I would do some stretching and active recovery:
Using a percussion massager or foam roller
5-10 minutes of breathwork and breathing exercises
Next, I would grab a second meal before heading to the beach or park, likely with my wife, and enjoy a walk, stroll, or jog for about an hour.
Even though I would have gotten a lot of rest the night before, I would settle down for a nap for about 90 minutes. After waking up, I’d head into my oxygen chamber for an hour.
Then, I would have an organic meal, watch some football, hang out, cut off all caloric intake about 3 hours before bed, read a bit, and then lay down for bed around 8 o’clock.
All in all, the essential parts of an ideal rest day for me include:
- Recovery using a foam roller
- Hydration (close to about 1 gallon of water)
- Proper nutrition
What Are Your TOP 5 Rest Day Recommendations?
Here are my top 5 recommendations for a rest day:
- Sleep - good, adequate sleep that is restful and rejuvenating
- Healthy, balanced nutrition and hydration - since your muscles and joints are recovering and healing, you want to focus on giving them proper nutrition and fuel
- Joyful, playful activity - going for a walk, a bike ride, playing with family, having fun engaging in activities with a fun spirit--leisure activity without competition
- Doing something mental - meditation, reading, writing, stimulating the brain; an active activity while still having a passive day
- Stretching - between 20-40 minutes of concentrated stretching
What Are The Worst Things To Do On a Rest Day?
I would have to say that the worst things to do on a rest day are:
- Overtraining - strenuous activities beyond usual training
- Overconsumption of alcohol - can prevent healing, can inhibit healing, mess up sleep cycle
- Excessive “cheat” meals
Essentially, the worst thing to do on a rest day is anything stressful that would take away from your body’s ability to recover.
Does Your Diet Change On a Rest Day? If So, How?
No, I don’t see a need to change my diet on rest days. I typically consume healthy, clean foods on a regular basis. This is individual and dependent on the macronutrients and diets of each person, though. I recommend that everyone stick to a balanced diet throughout the week and not just on one day, or the opposite.
What Are Your Favorite Treats?
I do like sweets such as caramel, chocolate, sugar, cinnamon sugar, raspberry filling. I’d have to say my “treat food” would have to be sweets, something like a pastry, cake, pie, or donut. For a “treat meal,” I’d go with a good old fashioned double cheeseburger.
If You Had To Convince a Boxer Why Rest Days Are Important, What Would You Say?
If you are serious about boxing and if you want to become the best you can be, you will far exceed all of the fighters in the world who are training 7 days a week by only engaging in 5 or 6 days of active, intense training and resting on the 7th day. Look at some of the most influential boxers and their regimens, such as Manny Pacquiao. When he changed his schedule to start incorporating resting, he saw major improvements in his skills. To make more progress in the long-haul, rest days are key.
It isn’t easy to rationalize recovery, but it’s worth it in the long run.
The Author: Sarah Pitman is the Blog Coordinator at FightCamp. In addition to writing for various fitness and health blogs, she manages several social media and digital marketing accounts for clients and companies in the industry. She is an avid runner, yogi, and traveler. She is a certified yoga instructor and has studied personal training through ACE.