Most boxers and fighters pride themselves on their hard work ethic and training. Nevertheless, as much as this is a very good thing, we sometimes kid ourselves when we should take a rest day or even just relax.
It can be very hard for fighters to switch off as we always want to strive to become better by training or keeping active. But it comes to a point for everyone where you need to take a day off so you truly maximise your overall recovery.
So the purpose of this blog will be to give you some useful ideas and tips on things to consider on your rest day away from the boxing gym.
Why should boxers take rest days?
It’s simple really, it helps you to recover after your high intensity workouts. By taking a day off it will help your muscles have time to rest and repair. This means you can come back stronger and also perform at your highest level physically.
Another aspect that doesn’t get talked about is the mental side of things. Boxing is a truly intense mental sport and by being able to take a day off away from it will help rejuvenate and refresh. This in turn can help reset your mindset so next time you will be in a better place!
How many rest days for boxing?
This really depends on how much you are training or at what level you are training at. Also the intensity of your boxing sessions plays a big part here. For example boxing is a high intensity sport that forces you to enter the red zone (>90% Max Heart Rate.) This is something to keep in mind when you should plan your rest days and lighter training sessions so you can perform at your best for the higher intensity training. Read Boxing Science’s article for more on this area.
To help you out here is a breakdown from beginner to intermediate for how often you should have a rest day.
|Level||Training Days||High Intensity Days||Rest Days|
|Beginner||3-4 days||1-2 days||2-4|
|Intermediate||4-5 days||2-3 days||1-3|
|Advanced (pro)||5-6 days||3-4 days||1-2|
This table is just a guide for those that need some slight guidance on how many rest days you should have. I recommend you always plan out your training each week, so you can schedule when you will be in the gym training and when you take a day off.
Food intake on rest days
This is probably worth a whole other blog, but it’s important to watch what you eat on your rest day! Especially if you are trying to cut weight for a fight!
In most cases, boxers are trying to cut weight rather than put on weight. Depending on what weight you are, you might want to consider being mindful of what you eat on non-training days. As you won’t be burning calories through exercise, you don’t want to overindulge in your food.
I highly recommend you check out the following nutrition plans books created specifically for fighters which I have found useful to use in past:
- 30 Day Fighter’s Diet by Expert Boxing
- Chris Algeiri’s The Fighter’s Kitchen
- Combat Sports Nutrition eBook
What should I do on my rest day?
Now for some of the ideas you can actually consider for your actual rest day! These ideas are all to help you either relax or aid recovery.
This is the most obvious and that is to just relax! Take the actual day off and don’t do much at all! For most of those who work, this is usually on the actual weekend as the best opportunity to put your feet up and switch off for the day. Watch sport, turn on Netflix, play video games, whatever it is, find a way to wind down!
A great example is from Anothony Joshua in his recent interview with vogue discussing what a typical rest day is like for him after a hard week of training.
“I start training from 12. So from about 12-6pm, I’m in the boxing gym just training, grafting…and then I’m back home about 6:30pm, have food and then go back to bed. On the weekend I’m more relaxed, sometimes my body feels really beat up so I don’t leave my room till about six in the evening (This is a Saturday)…On Sunday I have more energy as I’ve built up my energy system on Saturday.”Anthony Joshua, Vogue interview
Now being realistic, the vast majority are not training like Anthony Joshua unless you are a professional yourself. However you can take inspiration from the fact that even a top world champion values the importance of rest for helping him recover and gain more energy again.
Light exercise or other activities
Now, for some the thought of not resting or doing something at all is just out of the question. However there are other light exercises you can do while still relaxing.
Light walk – go out for a light walk and take your time while you do it, you’re in a rush anywhere.
Swim – yes this could be seen as a full on workout, but you can really take your time with this. If you are near the beach or lake this could also be a great way for muscle recovery too
Yoga – now not the most typical thing you would expect from most boxers! But this is a brilliant way to help boost your energy levels, stretch and also help improve mentally. Check out my article on 10 proven reasons why boxers should take up yoga here.
I recommend you check out boxing workouts while traveling blog here, which has some more useful ideas.
By stretching the main muscle groups on your rest day you are helping your muscles be flexible which will help reduce stiffness and the chance of injuries. This has been proven in much research to help blood flow and reduce muscle soreness. (Science for Sport)
It’s also important to remember stretching the muscle groups you will be using for your next workout. So in the case of boxing you want to be stretching the majority of your upper and lower body. Take 10-20 minutes to do this on your rest day. As mentioned above Yoga could be another way to do this. Check out my review on Yoga Burn review here for some inspiration.
Now the most important thing to consider is of course making sure your body gets the maximum recovery so you can come back even stronger! For the most part this usually muscular, so here are some muscle recovery ideas you shou
- Foam roller – reduce muscle soreness
- Massage gun – target deep tissue muscle
- Massage – aid muscle recovery on spot you can’t massage yourself
- Ice bath – helps reduce inflammation
- CBD oil – read my guide here
- Sleep – this is primary time when you muscles are recovering
I highly recommend you read my article on 10 effective tips to help muscle recovery after boxing training here. I go into a lot more detail on all the above points to help in your recovery.
Making sure you drink lots of water and keeping hydrated is an essential part for anyone that wants to stay fit and healthy. In terms of recovery and keeping well hydrated it will mean better muscle recovery.
So keep that in mind when you are on your rest day to stay hydrated on your day off.
The last point I wish to finish up with is your mental recovery, and taking a break from the thoughts of training. This is why mental toughness is so important in boxing and is worth developing it. Being able to switch off is an important aspect as it allows you to rest your mind in a way.
Another thing that often gets overlooked is trying something like meditation. Adopting meditation as a part of your rest day can make you a better fighter and bring tranquility to your mind. Doing regular meditation will make you more relaxed generally. Check out my useful boxing and mediation guide for boxers here.
You could also listen to great boxing audiobooks here that dive deeper into past fighters’ on your days off so you can continue to learn. This is really worthwhile if you are currently training or competing in boxing.
In my opinion rest days are vital for anyone in the sport of boxing and it can be one of the hardest things to do for a truly dedicated fighter.
There are no seasons in boxing like most other sports. So that is why you have to take rest days seriously. Even if you can’t resist the urge to do something, there are still less stressful ways to impact your body.
I highly recommend make a plan each week for all your training. That way you will be in better position to plan in you rest days or find ways for better recovery.
Here are more related article you might find useful to this topic below
- 10 Effective Tips To Help Muscle Recovery After Boxing Training
- Boxing Psychology | Master Your Mind
- Boxing And Meditation | How It Can Help You
- 10 Proven Reasons Why Boxers Should Take Up Yoga
- 5 Most Common Boxing Injuries You Should Know About
- Boxing Workouts While Traveling | Tips To Stay Active
PLEASE NOTE* All the above are just my suggestions from personal boxing training and competing over the years. Always ask your coach or a health professional to get advice for more detail on any of the above to help with your recovery. Especially if you are injured.