The Secret Ingredient: Rest and RecoveryFeb 02, 2022
Rest and recovery days are just as important as training. In fact, we live in a society where more equates to better if not carefully balanced or prioritized. We’re always told to stay active and get regular exercise. But whether you’re training for a competition or feeling extra motivated, more isn’t always better.
Taking regular breaks allows the body to recover and repair. It’s a critical part of progression, regardless of your current fitness level or regimen. Otherwise, skipping rest days can lead to overtraining or burnout.
Here are some advantages of incorporating recovery days within your training routine.
Transformation: Process and Progress
Training breaks down muscle fibers and creates microscopic tears in your muscle tissue. During recovery, cells called fibroblasts repair it. This aids the tissue to heal and grow, resulting in stronger muscles and growth. Additionally, your muscles store carbohydrates in the form of glycogen. During training, your body breaks down glycogen to fuel your workout. Rest gives your body time to replenish these energy stores before your next training session.
Quality Training and Performance
When you don’t get enough rest or lack sufficient recovery time between training sessions, it can be difficult to stay on track and consistent with your normal routine. Physical activity increases energy-boosting hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. Constant exercise, however, overproduces these hormones. Even if you push yourself, overtraining decreases your performance. You’ll have a hard time getting quality sleep, which only worsens fatigue and exhaustion.
Rest will not only help you get better sleep by letting your hormones return to a normal, balanced state but will increase energy and prevent fatigue, which prepares your body for consistently successful workouts.
Reduce Muscle Fatigue and Injury
Rest is necessary for avoiding exercise-induced fatigue. Remember, exercise depletes your muscles’ glycogen levels. If these stores aren’t replaced, you’ll experience muscle fatigue and soreness. Plus, your muscles need glycogen to function, even when you’re not working out. By getting adequate rest, as well as complementary nutrition and supplementation, you’ll prevent fatigue by letting your glycogen stores refill.
Regular rest is essential for staying safe during exercise as well. When the body is overworked, it’ll be more likely to sacrifice proper training form. Overtraining exposes your muscles to repetitive stress and strain. This increases the risk of overuse injuries, forcing you to take more rest days than planned.
Listen to the Body
If you notice any of the following signs, it might be time to take a break:
- Sore muscles. While it’s normal to feel sore after training, persistent soreness is a definite red flag. It means muscles haven’t recovered from past training sessions
- Pay attention to extreme exhaustion. If you feel spent, let your body rest.
- Muscle or joint pain that doesn’t go away might be a sign of an overuse injury.
- Emotional changes. Physical burnt out causes hormones like serotonin and cortisol to become imbalanced. This can cause changes like irritability, crankiness, and mood swings.
- Sleeping issues. High levels of cortisol and adrenaline can make it hard to get quality sleep.
- Reduced performance. The normal training routine feels difficult, or if you stop seeing progress, take a rest day.
Whether you're new to fitness or a long time athlete, regular rest is crucial. It’s necessary for muscle repair, fatigue prevention, and overall performance. In order to make the most out of rest days, do low-impact workouts like yoga, stretching, and walking. These activities will help you stay active while letting your body recover. Remember, without enough breaks, you’re less likely to achieve the goals you made in the first place. Letting your body rest is the best thing you can do for long term fitness success.