We all know how nice taking a day off from work feels, but does your body know what a day off from the gym feels like?
Resting is an important part of a healthy gym regimen. Without giving your body at least a day to recover from intense aerobic and anaerobic activity, the chance of injury could rise as well as mental stamina to perform your best.
No one wants either of these. Here’s why rest is more important than you may think.
- Muscles breakdown during exercise: During a workout, muscles are pushed to the max and naturally deplete glycogen stores. Glycogen fuels muscle contractions, allowing movement, however, contractions cause small tears in the muscles. Rest helps these tears rebuild.
- Muscles need to strengthen: Muscle tears help rebuild the muscle to become stronger and more resistant to that level of exercise stress. This is important so your muscle can withstand more weight the next time.
- Your body needs psychological downtime: Without a proper sleep schedule and an optimal nutrition plan post-workout, your body may struggle to perform at its maximum potential during the next training session. Mental wear-down due to overtraining can negatively impact your everyday life, as well.
However, there are actually two types of recovery vital to a successful workout regimen: short-term and long-term recovery.
- Short-term: Typically known as active recovery. “Active recovery is engaging in low-intensity exercise after workouts during both the cool-down phase immediately after a hard effort or workout as well as during the days following the workout.” This is the slow down portion at the end of a long distance run, or the stretching session at the end of a strenuous weight training session. Sleep is also included in short-term recovery, so make sure you’re getting enough of it.
- Long-term: These techniques are built into a seasonal training program. These are your days of rest.
The bottom line is if you work 7 days per week, in your office, at your desk, staring at your computer screen, you’d become worn out very quickly. Think about your body in a similar way; if you workout intensely for 7 days in a row, your body will become worn out as well.
Life is about balance. Make sure you have a healthy one, incorporating both rest and intense training! Happy training (and resting)!