The Importance of Rest Days

Many of us find that quantity over quality or the no days off attitude is the only way to go to get the most out of your workout or training program.  Rest and recovery is an important step that is often not taken seriously in the process of re-building muscle.  If you put constant wear and tear on your body and muscles with no time to recover, you will eventually hit a plateau or decrease in performance – also known as, overtraining.  Overtraining is the excessive frequency, volume, or intensity of training that results in extreme fatigue, illness, or injury.

If you have a hard time just giving yourself days of doing absolutely nothing, here are some ideas on how to off-load for a few days or week without feeling guilty:

  • decrease the amount of sets or reps for each exercise
  • use a lighter weight for each exercise
  • increase the rest periods
  • decrease the number of training days/week
  • decrease the time under tension
  • have a fun workout – try something you normally wouldn’t have before
  • get other things done – organize, clean, help a friend out
  • eat, sleep & RECOVER!

Is Stress Making You Fat?

Life is filled with opportunities to be stressed.  Job, spouse, kids, friends, in-laws... the list goes on!

The questions is, is this stress causing you to hold on to more fat?  The answer is most likely, YES!

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When we have an elevated amount of cortisol (stress hormone) in our system, we tend to eat foods higher in sugar and fat, which over time will affect our weight.  Your body may begin to store this fat around your mid-section.  Additional weight gain starts a vicious cycle of being even more stressed due to the extra pounds you are now holding on to.  Before you know it, your metabolism is shot because you are now eating too much, or potentially not eating enough.  

How do we fix this?

1. Take time to identify what is causing you stress.  Find resources and professionals that can help you eliminate one stressor at a time.

2. Practice diaphragmatic breathing.  At Bodymass, we start each training session with a breathing technique that allows one to breath in through their nose for 4-5 seconds to fill up the belly, pausing at the top of the breath, then pressing the air out for another 4-5 seconds.

3. Get sleep.  It is recommended that individuals get 8 hours of sleep a night -- many don't get half of that.  

4. Take a rest day.  Your workouts can cause stress on the body, you need to make sure to incorporate active recovery or stretching into your weekly routine.

5. Improve your nutrition.  Aim to get 5-6 smaller meals throughout your day, with a source of protein at each meal.  This will help you stay fuller, longer, and help get your metabolism back on track.

Written by: Megan Osysko

The Importance of Rest & Recovery

No matter what type of strength program or exercise routine you are involved in, getting adequate rest and recovery should be a part of that plan for both physical and psychological reasons. Rest and recovery allow the body the time it needs in order to repair and strengthen itself between workouts. Fatigue hinders skill development.  Pushing the limit when your body isn’t at its best can cause you to overtrain.  Overtraining can occur as a result of not allowing your body to adapt to the changes caused by the stress of exercise.  It can cause an individual to feel tired and depressed, have decreased sports performance, or an increased risk of injury.  Ultimately, it can actually weaken even the strongest athlete.

Of course, there are recommendations for the amount of time you should rest between working certain muscle groups or the amount of recovery you need from running longer distances, but it is important to realize that everyone adapts to exercise differently.  As a general rule, the higher intensity of your workout, the more rest you should allow.  Same goes for rest intervals among and between exercises and drills.

Here are some tips for incorporating rest and recovery techniques into your training plan to avoid fatigue, overtraining, or injury:

 

Incorporate Active Recovery.  Rather than overdoing it, incorporate active recovery days into your workout plan.  If you are a heavy lifter, have a day of training that incorporates body-weight exercises only.  If you are a runner, have a day where you lower the intensity of your run, or cross-train.  Swim laps, get on the elliptical or bike, go for a walk, keep your muscles working to allow your body to flush out the lactic acid build-up from intense exercise.

Get Plenty of Sleep.  When your body is at rest, you are able to recover more quickly.  You will not be able to perform your next day of exercise at your best if you are tired.  Aim for at least 7-8 hours of sleep per day.

Avoid Lifting Heavy on High Stress Days.  When you are having a stressful day, avoid squatting or deadlifting to avoid back injury.  Exercise can help with the release of stress, but overtraining (intensity, duration, frequency) can actually exacerbate stress.  In order to perform your best, you have to feel your best.  Don’t risk it.

Take a Day Off.  For some, this isn’t even in your vocabulary (but it should be).  Everyone needs it, even the elite athletes.  A day off not only allows your body to recovery physically, but mentally as well.  A lot of what we do during exercise is “mind over matter.”  We push ourselves to do one more rep, run one more sprint, or run one more mile.  Give yourself a day off.  It will not make or break you, and it may just help your next workout be the best yet.

Written by: Megan Osysko

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