I want you to ask yourselves, and be honest, how many complete days off training do you take a week? And when I say off, I don’t mean ” I do a light cardio session, or I go in and stretch” I mean off! I bet the majority of you will say once a week max, but some of you based on the question above will say none.
Few people within the health and fitness industry can truly acknowledge or even recognise the importance of rest and recovery in blindness to the success of their ultimate training goals. In order to gain size, strength, definition, you have to work hard, we all know that. It’s this hard work that will break down your muscles and in the short-term make you weaker. In order to rebuild, to grow and to increase strength we have to look past how hard we train and look into and understand the true value rest has on our bodies. Working out provides the structure for change, the change itself takes place during your rest and recovery periods.
So what happens during Recovery?
When we exercise we are causing changes in the body, such as muscle tissue breakdown, depletion of energy stores (muscle glycogen), fluid loss and we challenge the cardiovascular &muscular system as well as the Central Nervous System. Rest and recovery allows these stores to be replenished, allows tissues to repair bigger and stronger and allows us to rehydrate. Without sufficient time to repair and replenish the body will continue to breakdown from intensive exercise. You will not and cannot regenerate; ultimately this will lead us into the dangerous state of over training.
Over training is best defined as a state where your body has been repeatedly stressed by training to the point where rest is no longer adequate to allow for recovery. It can eventually cause the body to enter a negative nitrogen balance state, which is a catabolic State, and if you have read my previous articles you will know how detrimental this can be. It is also in this phase where the body will begin to produce a mass of cortisol, which is a big no no!
Cortisol is the hormone secreted by the adrenal cortex in a response to stress. If not controlled it will impede muscle repair and function, decrease testosterone production, inhibit protein synthesis, accelerate protein breakdown and reduce / stop muscular growth. However, if that wasn’t enough, it will also reduce the body’s ability to use fat as an energy source, resulting in an increased storage, and none of us want that now do we?
So how do we avoid / treat over training?
The answer is simple. With proper rest and through quality nutrition!
Firstly, we need to know what the warning signs are. Most common signs include; depression, mood swings, insomnia, irritability, loss of desire to train, your strength, size and overall performance diminishes and you pick up frequent injuries.
The key here is to listen to your body, when you notice any of these early warning signs it’s time to adjust your training program accordingly to calibrate this. Take time off without the guilt trip, introduce those all important rest days between heavy lifting sessions and introduce periods of active recovery training every few weeks. Also look at reducing your caffeine intake and any other stimulants such as pre workout supplements or fat burners, which cause an increase in cortisol levels and can lead to adrenal fatigue along with disrupting your sleep patterns. Tighten / clean the diet up and if need be introduce an adaptation complex supplement with DHEA.
So in brief, I want you to look at your current training schedule, how many days are you training in a week and how many days off do you have? I recommend that everyone have at a very minimum, at least one complete day off a week. If you’ve been hammering it hard for a long time without adequate time off then please don’t be afraid to take a few days off. This will give your body and your mind a break, you won’t lose any of your gains but will find you actually gain once you step back into the gym, both physically and psychologically!
Don’t be afraid to Rest and Recover!
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