The topic of rest came up this week. Because there are some aspects of the topic which are a tad counter-intuitive, it seems like a few words of clarification might be in order!
We tend to think of our training efforts producing tangible results, but it isn’t quite that straightforward. Yes, the training is necessary and sometimes we’ll feel very pronounced effects from a training session — often not until the following day. So the “breaking down” part is necessary (we’ll save the science for another day….), but it needs to be balanced because it is during rest and recovery that the actual physiological gains are accomplished. Indeed, simply training harder may not get you the results you desire unless you give your body the opportunity to go through the necessary recovery cycle!
Here are a few strategies to balance things out….
1. Use active recovery both within and between training sessions. . Active recovery or active rest is productive recuperation performed between exercises or even between workouts. Stretching movements between strength exercises will allow you to rest muscles while still keeping your body warm and ready for the next set/move/complex. Doing fun, lower intensity recreational activities between normal workout days will actually help you to recover.
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. If you choose to train every day, it is essential that you allow yourself to back down the intensity periodically. And taking a day away from training is perfectly fine! These easier days could mean you are just mindfully active – you get in a brisk walk or do some fun activity that is a little bit strenuous. Our template is this.. training at least every other day and if your body needs it, take a second day off. But try very hard not to take a third day off. Coming back is mentally challenging and it is harder on your body!
3. Vary the activities or exercises within your program. 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. Here at the studio, we work on a weekly rotation, but even with that rotation, we work a variety of movements into every training session.
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.