• Rob Olson

Upgrade Your Rest Days

Rest days. They're just days you don't workout, right?

I write this blog as I myself continue to redefine what it means to me. We all go through a different learning process, and each of us are in different phases of our fitness journey. I've been active my whole life, doing CrossFit for 10+ years now while dabbling in triathlons and ultra-marathons. I'm 34 years old with two kids and one more on the way. With age comes wisdom, right? Well according to this blog anyways, its more like with age and technology come wisdom. I use a Whoop, which is a wearable tech that measures your sleep & activity and gives you a "recovery" score. You can read more about it in my blogs HERE, HERE and HERE.

Here is my recent revelation.

Rest days are about more than "not working out". You need to make an effort to "take it easy". Here is some data from my Whoop. Even if you don't have a Whoop I will try to explain it so it makes sense!

This is a screen shot from a "high strain day". It gets a score from 0 to 21, with 0 being asleep all day, to 21 being running a marathon type stuff.

Notice the stats on the bottom:

Max Heart Rate - 181

Average Heart Rate - 71

Calories Burned - 4,733

This was a busy day that involved a workout.

This is a screen shot from a low strain day. Low strain to me is a score below 10.

Notice the stats at the bottom:

Max Heart Rate - 153

Average Heart Rate - 62

Calories Burned - 2,848

This is a screen shot of a red recovery day (low/bad).

Basically what this means is the day before I did a bunch of work, and did not adequately rest that night. My body requires more rest.

Notice the stats at the bottom:

Heart Rate Variability - 67

Resting Heart Rate - 47

Sleep - 7hrs 27min

*For me 47 is a very high resting heart rate. Big sign that the body is working hard to recover.

This is a green recovery (good/high).

This means that for the work I did yesterday, I rested adequately to recover enough. My body is ready for more.

Notice the stats at the bottom:

Heart Rate Variability - 105

Resting Heart Rate - 40

Sleep - 7hrs 52min

* 40bpm resting heart rate is my target. This is when I know I'm recovered.

Here is the breakdown of sleep from the green day above.

Notice it says I got 94% of the sleep I needed.


I got quality sleep:

3hrs 12min in REM

1hr 28min in Deep Sleep

So theres quality and quantity. Very important when it comes to recovery. If you get 8hrs of sleep but you toss and turn all night, its worthless.

Ok now that you have a background on Whoop data, here is where the rest days come in. Below you will see a calendar of June and October for comparison.

This is June. It is showing the daily strain. If the day had 10+, it gets the light blue color. Yes, 100% of the days are light blue.

This is October, so far. Notice there are a few days that are gray, these are days with less than 10 strain (meaning I did less work).

Now this is a calendar from June showing recovery.

Green = Good/Recovered

Yellow = OK

Red = Bad/Not Recovered

Notice all the reds. Thats bad.

This is October, so far.

Notice the reds. Only 1.

If you've made it this far, congratulations. That was some heavy data above, and for non-whoop wearers, it was probably a lot to absorb.

Here is the conclusion:

What did I change from June to October?

On my rest days (I try to take 2 per week), I try to LEGIT rest. So not only do I not workout, but I try to keep my heart rate low, and minimize my steps. For those of you that track your steps with a FitBit or other device, on my normal days, I average 15,000 steps. On a rest day, I average 7,000 steps. I'm literally trying to take it easy on my body so it can focus on recovery. If I don't focus on it, I easily get drawn into work, whether its lawn care or stuff around the house, or working on the business etc. The other big thing for me, is that I used to feel guilty when I rested. I felt lazy or unproductive, like I should be doing something. Now, after seeing this data, I see the usefulness in truly resting. My body feels better, and my workouts are going better.

I challenge you to work hard when its workout time, but when its a rest day, REST! Take it easy, hydrate, do some stretching, and promote recovery.

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