Don’t feel guilty. Rest and recovery is not the same as skipping a workout. Successful athletes and fitness enthusiasts on every level build this crucial component into their training programmes.
Rest and Recovery In Your Fitness Programme
While you already know that you have to progressively challenge your body with activity if you want to build your fitness, here’s a surprise: the actual physiological gains occur during rest and recovery!
Use rest and active recovery along with proper exercise variety, and you will take your workout efforts to new heights and produce greater results than you will if you only concentrate on work. Now, this doesn’t mean that napping should replace your workouts. It means finding balance and working out at the right level of effort so that you enhance your training results. We’re talking quality training here, rather than quantity.
While effort is 50 percent of the training equation, restoration and recovery is the other important half. To see results, you have to work out at a level of effort that challenges your body, whether you’re doing cardio, strength or flexibility training. However, this does not mean that you have to hurt your body or always work out harder to get results.
A myth of strength training is that you have to break down the muscle and then rebuild it to get stronger. This implies that damage to the muscle is the stimulus for change. The truth is that the process of “hypertrophy” (increasing lean muscle size) is directly related to the “synthesis” (putting together) of cellular material. The word synthesis means that strength training is a positive building process, rather than a negative breaking down process. The bottom line is that you need to work out hard enough to overload your body positively, but not so hard you do damage.
Positive overloads cause the body to respond with increases in strength, cardiovascular capacity and flexibility. This positive overload, balanced with rest and recovery is the optimal training formula.
If you attempt maximum effort workouts every day, you risk overtraining. This can lead to staleness, exhaustion and injury. Rest and recovery, built into your workout programme, will keep your workouts productive and your body healthy. Here’s how to do it:
* 1. Use “active recovery” to maximise time and avoid over training. Active recovery or active rest is productive recuperation performed between exercises or even between workouts. For example, gentle stretching exercises between strength exercises will allow you to rest those hard working muscles without requiring total inactivity. Cross-training with fun, lower intensity recreational activities between formal workout days will help you to recover, but still keep you active.
* 2.Vary the intensity of your workouts throughout the week. As a general rule, one or two days of hard training should be followed by an equal number of easy days.
* 3. Vary the activities or exercises within your programme. Performing the same type of exercises, at the same intensity every workout, can set you up for burnout or injury. Your body will also adapt to the same routine day after day, and you may experience diminishing returns for your efforts. Changing your activities and your routine will keep your body challenged, as it has to adapt to each new stimulus.
* 4. Take at least one actual day of rest each week. This is important for both mental and physical health. If you feel that you have to do something, try stretching, yoga or an easy activity such as a walk in the park. Your day of rest will rejuvenate you for your next few days of workouts.
The importance of variety, cross-training, active recovery, and actual days of rest for the mind and body cannot be over emphasised. The optimal results from your training occur when your training is mixed with new activities, rest and recovery.
Article by Time-to-Run the late resident coach Dave Spence
View further Training articles
- The Need for Sleep
- Ten Mistakes Endurance Athletes Make
- Ten Mistakes Endurance Athletes Make – Part 2
- Timing your Workout
- Components of endurance training explained
- Build Rest and Recovery Into Your Fitness Programme
- The cornerstones of training
- In the long run – You`ll find endurance
- Six Building Blocks of Distance Running
- Six Building Blocks of Distance Running – Part 2