Get Some Rest!
“Rest” is a scary four letter word to many of us. But why are we so afraid to take a day off from training? Is it a fear of weight gain? Do we think that a rest day will derail our diet/training? Could it be Gym FOMO (fear of missing out)? Or maybe we feel great and just don’t see a need to take a day off.
Most athletes know that getting enough rest after exercise is essential to high-level performance, but many still over-train and feel guilty when they take a day off. That really shouldn’t be the case. In fact, rest is when the body repairs, rebuilds and strengthens itself. Continuous training can actually weaken the strongest athletes. This rule also applies to your average gym-goer.
Rest days are critical to performance for a variety of physiological and psychological reasons. Building in rest days can help maintain a better balance between home, work and fitness goals.
What happens during recovery?
Recovery allows the body to replenish energy stores and repair damaged tissues. The rest phase is where your body repairs the muscle tissue breakdown that occurs during exercise.
Recovery time allows your energy stores (glycogen) to be replenished and allows tissue repair to occur. Without sufficient time off, the body will continue to break down from intense exercise. The end result is injury, burnout and/or sickness!
Symptoms of overtraining, a.k.a. not taking a rest day:
Signs of overtraining include a feeling of general fatigue, seeing no new gains or results, depression, a “snappy” attitude, decreased sports performance and increased risk of injury.
Key elements that aid in recovery:
Sleep is the most important element in recover. Adequate levels of sleep help to provide mental health, hormonal balance and muscular recovery. Try to aim for 7 to 9 hours a night.
Drinking adequate amounts of water is critical to health, energy, recovery and performance. Try to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses a day. If you’re a heavy sweater, it may be wise to down even more! For more information on hydration see the blog article called “Drink Up Buttercup”.
Nutrition is also key. Everything you eat has the ability to help heal your body, or to poison it. Moderation is key on items that may not be stellar if you are trying to eat “clean.”
REST! (This doesn’t mean park you’re tush on the sofa and binge watch Netflix.) Take a break from your regular workout routine, but make sure that you’re maintaining a reasonable activity level. Things you can do that still count as rest without inactivity . . . take Fido for a walk, play in the park with your kids, or take a stretch/gentle yoga class.
Rest maybe the hardest part of your exercise regimen, but it certainly is essential to reaching those fitness goals!