It can seem like torture, for the dedicated weightlifter to have a ‘rest day’. Many of us view a rest day as slacking off or being lazy, so we push ourselves to train 6-7 days a week. The three key features of muscle growth are diet, exercise and rest.

We often underestimate the importance rest plays on enhancing performance and maximising results in the gym. When there is an imbalance between intense training and rest (recovery) you will reach a plateau in performance and can run the risk of injury and reduced performance in strength, power and endurance.

There is a common misconception that muscle mass is created during training and that lower calories should be consumed on rest days because less fuel is being used. This is incorrect, if your goal is to build muscle and strength then rest days should be referred to as ‘growth days’ and restricted eating should be avoided. It is during your days away from the gym that your muscles will stimulate growth. Think of it as an investment for your muscles and by feeding them with protein on days off, it is providing the building blocks required to support impressive muscle growth.

Cortisol is a hormone produced by the body as a response to stress and stress is a result of overtraining. Cortisol prevents muscle repair and function, increases muscle breakdown and prevents muscle growth. To make things worse it also reduces the body’s ability to use fat as energy and increases the amount of fat stored in the body. Rest reduces the release of cortisol, helping us to maintain muscles we have worked so hard to achieve.

Growth Hormones (GH) are produced naturally by the body and are highest when we sleep.  From a performance perspective they are the master of hormones and have gained particular interest among bodybuilders over the years. The dedicated lifter should make good use out of their rest days. Cheat days, increased alcohol intake and neglecting supplements on rest days will not build muscle.  Quality sleep, nutritious diet, plenty of water and a superior whey protein powder e.g. Musashi 100% Whey, are all vital for success. Whey protein has a variety of benefits and should be included as part of your daily diet. Consuming Musashi 100% Whey within 30-minutes of finishing and also on rest days will enhance muscle recovery, improve strength and build muscle.

It is time to change your thinking!  From now on, refer to a rest day as a growth day. Give yourself at least 2-3 growth days per week and include Musashi 100% Whey protein alongside a healthy balanced diet every day, regardless of whether you are in the gym or not.