Cardinal rule of exercise – you have to allow your body to rest and repair. Although this is widely known, I often talk to people who never rest and exercise 7 days a week.
Why Rest Is Important:
- The body repairs and strengthens itself in-between workouts. Continuous training can actually weaken the strongest athlete.
- During recovery, the body adapts to the stress of exercise and the real training effect takes place – meaning, this is where you build muscle.
- Conditioning requires a balance between overload (pushing the muscles) and recovery. Too much overload or too little recovery result in both physical and psychological symptoms.
- Rest helps maintain a better balance between home, work & fitness goals.
- Sleep is key to keeping hormone levels steady which aid in stress and muscle recovery, as well as a stable mood. Sleep deprivation can also affect aerobic endurance.
- Too few rest and recovery days can lead to overtraining syndrome : when you train beyond the body’s ability to recover.
Common Warning Signs and Symptoms of Overtraining Syndrome
- Washed-out feeling, tired, drained, lack of energy
- Mild leg soreness, general aches and pains
- Pain in muscles and joints
- Sudden drop in performance
- Decreased immunity (increased number of colds, and sore throats)
- Decrease in training capacity / intensity
- Moodiness, irritability or depression
- Loss of enthusiasm for working out
- Decreased appetite
- Increased incidence of injuries
- A compulsive need to exercise
Principal of Adaptation & How It Applies To Recovery
When we undergo the stress of physical exercise, our body adapts and becomes more efficient – Principal of Adaptation (also discussed in our “The Power of Your Heart” blog entry). When you do not properly rest from the stress of physical exercise, your body cannot adapt as easily to the changes.
The body can only tolerate so much stress before it breaks down and risks injury. Doing too much, too quickly will result in muscle damage and have adverse effects (too many days of exercise). Likewise, doing too little, too slowly will not result in improvement (going through the motions).
The other key component of building your fitness level is to vary your workouts between cardio and strength conditioning. All too often, people will focus on one or the other and constantly work the same muscles without rest. Ever try a new class and couldn’t move the next morning? Excellent example of muscles you are not training in your normal workout. Varying your workouts allows the muscles you typically use to rest and helps your body adapt to change (improve your fitness level).
People always ask me what I do for my workouts. I am a pretty scheduled kinda girl who likes to plan my week. I work out 5 days/wk with 2 days rest.
3 days I vary my workout with high intensity interval and strength training at K2 fitness. In between those days, I do 2 days/wk of interval sprints for 30 minutes on my treadmill (5 min running/2 min sprint circuits).
I believe in those 2 days of rest (as hard as it is sometimes to mentally convince myself to not workout). I feel so refreshed when I go back to my workouts.
When I workout, I workout hard and make every minute count. It’s better to maximize your time at the gym and work hard the days you go then going through the motions every day and not improving your fitness level. Workout, repair and workout again.
And think of all the time you will save with less days at the gym.
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