Should you consider rest and recovery into your training? Yes (please). But why, when and how you should do that? Let me try to explain that to you. First we need to remember that there is not “a one-size-fits-all” answer. The nuances are going to be a little bit different for everyone depending on their age, sex, level of the fitness and amount of the training. Every human body is unique: different individuals are able to handle different amounts of training volume. My goal is to keep this at a general level and explain things as simply as possible without getting into small details.
WHY to rest and recovery?
There is one general principle that applies to all human being: if you’re participating in sports, you’re breaking down your body and your nervous system.
Exercise (especially intense exercise and weightlifting) creates tiny tears in the muscles. Over time, as muscles heal, they eventually grow bigger and stronger. It’s important to understand that this process happens during rest and recovery, not during the exercise session itself.
In order to have long, healthy fitness lifestyle and see gains in fitness and in order for the body to keep doing what you want it to do, you have to give it enough rest to repair itself.
Also especially in high intensity exercises (Metcon) you are also pushing your nervous system out of balance. The central nervous system is a large, complex entity that runs under the protection of the spine. As a part of this nervous system there is the autonomic nervous system: sympathetic, parasympathetic and enteric. These regulate involuntary physiological processes: heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, digestion, and sexual arousal. Over here we want focus to sympathetic and parasympathetic system. Think of parasympathetic like the brakes on your car and sympathetic as the gas.
When we go into the Metcon, we go into the fight-mode. This means that your sympathetic nervous system kick in and parasympathetic shut down. When sympathetic nervous system is in work, it release hormones called adrenalin and cortisol and also it will increase sweating, heart rate and blood pressure.
Although the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems work together, and always strive to be in balance, the sympathetic system can accidentally “stay on”. In today’s world, we are constantly on the go, working too many hours, not getting enough sleep and overly stressed on a daily basis. This also activates the sympathetic nervous system to work more causing the sympathetic overload. When this happens, your heart rate increases (specially the rest heart rate), blood pressure increases and you may feel unmotivated and worn out and stressed. At the same time, this over runs the parasympathetic system, and it cannot do its job as well. Due to this, you can’t digest your food as well, you can’t rest or sleep as well, you become tired throughout the day, sexual arousal can be decreased, and your body is unbalanced. It is also known that an imbalance between the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system weakens the immune defense mechanism and thus we are more prone to illness.
WHEN to rest and recovery?
As I already said, every human body is unique. You are the master of your body. If you listen closely to your body, it will tell you when you need to skip your usual workout and take a rest day. Here are some top reasons to take a rest day:
– General feelings of fatigue
– An unexplained decrease in performance (generally lasting between one week and one month)
– Aches and pains
And it’s good to understand and remember that the different muscle groups tend to have different rates of recovery: Bigger muscle groups take longer to recover than smaller ones. For example biceps versus hamstrings: in hamstrings there is going to be a lot more muscle mass destroyed than is biceps. That’s why hamstrings are going to take longer time to replace.
Some studies show that it would be ideal to rest for 72 hours before training the same muscle group again. This gives your body the time it needs for muscle recovery and growth without risking injury from overtraining or under recovery.
From my experience, I would say that there should be at least one full rest day every week.
HOW to rest and recovery?
Here are 6 examples how to rest and maybe even speed up your recovery:
Don’t workout with empty belly. Have something about 60min before workout: banana, pre-workout drink, smoothie etc. fast-digesting carbohydrates. Its purpose is to ease the fatigue: the more fatigued your body is, the more time he/she needs to recover.
Especially after strength training, you will have so called metabolic window (also called the anabolic window or protein window). This physical state requires a lot of cellular processes to take place for muscles to repair and growth. These processes are fueled by nutrients: protein and carbohydrates. If you take protein and carbohydrates about in 30-60min (for female the window is shorter, about 30min), it will increase protein synthesis, reducing muscle protein breakdown and replenishing muscle glycogen. By pumping your body full of nutrients immediately after a workout, allows your body to increase the rate of repair, recovery faster and hopefully gain more muscle mass.
At the moment, there is not enough scientific evidence to support the metabolic window theory, but you can be sure that a little refueling immediately after training is at least not harmful!
Do you remember when I said that muscles heal, grow bigger and stronger during rest and recovery, not during the exercise session itself? Here it is: during deep sleep, your body works to repair muscle, organs, and other cells. Also sleep is the place, where you parasympathetic and sympathetic system have chance to get balanced.
WARM UP and COOL DOWN:
A warm-up and a cool-down improve your athletic performance; prevent injuries, and helps with recovery from exercise.
Workout recovery starts before the workout. Warming up it’s not just about raising your body temperature and getting a sweat going. Think of your warm-up more as reconnecting your body. You are preparing the joints so they are ready to move your weight. Reinforcing proper movement patterns and firing up your muscles for more powerful contractions. You can trust our coaches for the warm-up! However, if you have something special going on with your body, e.g. tight shoulders, in addition to the general warm-up, take a moment and give extra love to your shoulders. Remember that you can always ask NE staff for help if needed!
Benefits of Warming Up
– Improved performance
– Improved blood flow
– Faster muscle contraction and relaxation
– Injury prevention
– Mental preparation
– Faster recovery
Cooling down after a workout will help relieve muscle soreness, keep you more comfortable and allow your body to recover before the next workout. Good way to cool down is for example 10min on the bike and slowly bringing your heart rata down and flush the lactic acids out of your body. Also giving some rotations for you Spine s highly recommended and really important to reset your nervous system.
Benefits of Cooling Down:
– Starting the recovery phase for your body, mind and nervous system
– Reducing DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
Deload is a term we use when reducing training volume and intensity for resting and recovering. You will see “deload week” in NE Training Program. This is a perfect chance to let your body to take easier and recover. Remember that you can have your deload week when ever you feel like that: just scale the workouts! Tell this to your coach and he/she will help you so you can get the most out of your deload week.
Go walk to forest, swim in the ocean or maybe climbing with your buddy or Have Yoga or pilates-class – do something Else and TaKe time out from your usual sport.
To make appointment with some bodywork specialist (massage therapist, physiotherapist, chiropractor, osteopath,…), for example Michi from NE Staff, is perfect way to start recovery. Remember that bodywork is WORK to your body and after that you should give some time to your body to seattle down.
Conclusion: Rest and recovery is an important part of a balanced training program because it gives for the mind and body time to repair, rebuild and strengthen itself between exercises.
Believe in yourself and be brave and do it.
Do the next right thing to you.
Train hard, recover harder.