Whether you’re a runner, HIIT enthusiast, kickboxer, or yogi, we all have those days where, no matter how hard we push ourselves, we just can’t get the results we want. While off days do just happen and sometimes you have to accept them, there are several little tweaks you can make for optimal performance.
If you’re looking to improve your workout performance and have fewer off days, here’s everything you need to know to make it happen.
Eat the right foods
As the saying goes, you are what you eat — and if you’re loading up on simple carbs and sugar, you can’t expect your body to perform as well as you want it to. Celebrity trainer and RISE nation founder Jason Walsh notes that while certain foods are obviously healthier than others, everyone’s needs are different.
“Some people tolerate or need different macros and micros for performance,” he explains. “Generally speaking, you need fuel for performance, so complex carbohydrates help with that, along with fatty acids. In terms of recovery, I would put proteins on top of the priority level along with carbs and fats, and of course water and electrolytes.”
Add variety to your workouts
If you’re a runner, that’s great — but running seven days a week isn’t. No matter what your preferred workout is, in order to perform optimally and prevent injury, you need variety.
“I always recommend adding in supplementary workouts like yoga or other cardio classes,” says Walsh. “It all depends on goal, and the realistic amount of time people can devote toward those goals.”
While slowing down can feel counterintuitive to reaching your goals, it’s actually a crucial piece of the workout puzzle. Walsh says that while the level of recovery necessary depends on how intense your cardio and strength-training sessions are, in general, the more intense the workout, the more recovery is needed — but there are key things everyone should be doing.
“As long as you are getting adequate sleep, hydration, and nutrition, the body can handle a lot,” he explains. “There are also the psychological factors involved, so make sure to rest your brain too.”
Another great way to recover? Massage. “I’ve found that ‘soft tissue’ work is absolutely necessary, especially in injury prevention and longevity,” Walsh says.
Take rest days
If you love to exercise, rest days can feel like torture. But they’re crucial not just for optimal performance, but injury prevention.
“I take one to two days to rest, depending on the cumulative effect of the workouts,” explains Walsh. “I’ve learned to listen to my body and take a rest day when I need it. I’m in this for life, so train smart and recover as needed.”
The main thing to keep in mind is that everyone’s body is different, and we all need a specific set of things to perform optimally. So listen to your body, and remember to rest when your body needs it.