There are two types of people in this world, those who exercise and those who don’t.
Focusing for a moment on those who do, they also often fall into two camps; those who do too much resting and not enough exercise, and those who do too much exercise and not enough rest!
For the purposes of today’s blog it’s the latter group that we want to consider.
We’ve both been part of this group in the past, and have learnt the hard way that not having long enough quality rest can have negative physical and potentially emotional consequences!
Here is why it’s essential to step away from the gym (for a bit) and slow down a little!
Rest and Recovery
Rest and recovery are a critical component of any successful training program. Whether you are training to do a marathon, weight training or just regularly working out to keep fit and healthy, it’s so important that you schedule rest and recovery days into your week. Any sort of weight training (and that includes body weight only), depletes muscle-building nutrients in your body and creates tiny microscopic tears in your muscle fibres. After a workout your body begins to repair muscle damage and let your muscles grow. Your body needs time immediately after a workout to properly recover.
Rest: most easily defined as a combination of sleep and time spent not training. Some sort of rest will feature in even the most aggressive trainers programs but the sort of rest you get – how you sleep, what you do to relax – is an art form that needs attention!
Recovery: refers to what you can do to maximise your body’s repair. It will include hydration, nutrition, and stretching. Recovery encompasses more than just muscle repair. It involves chemical and hormonal balance, nervous system repair and mental strength.
Hydration – Water helps serve all our recovery functions – making our bodies more efficient at taking in nutrients, lowering levels of stress on the heart, giving us energy and improving skin. Plain water is the best way to hydrate – steer clear of flavoured drinks, squash and cordial – especially the sugar free variety! The added artificial sweeteners give your system more to process and cause it further strain. Add natural tastes like fresh lemon, mint or lime.
Nutrition – Eating clean and balanced meals in moderation is proven to be effective to remain healthy and increase performance. After a workout the chances are you’ve depleted all your glycogen (fuel!) sources. Make sure to adequately refuel after you work out with a balanced mix of a simple carbohydrate and protein. If your stores are depleted and you work out, your body will not start to eat away at those stubborn bits of fat you want to get rid of, instead it reaches deep into your muscles and sucks out any glycogen it can find ruining the muscle you’ve just been working so hard to create!
Stretching – You need enough flexibility to move well and remain pain free. Include dynamic stretching in your warm-ups while saving static stretching for after your workouts.