We are still early into 2011, so talking about recharging our batteries and taking a rest might sound crazy. However, it’s important to remember that sufficient rest and recovery periods are necessary to avoid burnout and injuries, as well as to get the best results possible from our exercise routines.
Check out this list of signs to see if you may need a little recharging:
1. Drained or fatigued feeling
2. Excessive thirst
4. Decreased performance
7. Muscle pain
If you are experiencing ANY of these symptoms, you should consider increasing your rest and recovery periods.
During intense workouts, body fluids are lost, energy stores are depleted and microscopic tears occur in your muscles. It is during the time of rest that all is restored. Muscles recover, repair and grow during downtime, not when you train, and so it’s important to take recovery periods seriously. Without adequate recovery time, your body just continues to break down, and symptoms of overtraining may present themselves. If you experience any of the signs above, your body may need to be recharged.
There are several beneficial ways to incorporate rest and recovery into your program. Here are just a few:
- Increasing the time in between sets during your workouts and of cool-downs after your workouts, and performing low-intensity workouts on the days after intense workouts (short-term recovery)
- Taking days off from exercise (long-term recovery)
- Good old-fashioned sleep — and lots of it!
I’m not suggesting that you take weeks or months off, but after many days and months of staying true to your resolutions, your body needs a short break. Not only does your body stop responding when you don’t take a break, you also open yourself up to possible injuries. Additionally, rest days not only allow your body to recover, but also allow for more balance in other areas of your life: family, friends and hobbies. Most well-designed, balanced programs like The FIRM include rest days, so it’s important to follow the workout rotation calendars appropriate for your fitness level included in these programs.
I am glad that science has backed up my favorite training style: work out hard, take time off, work out hard, take time off. After much trial and error, I find that taking rest days (one, two, or even three in some weeks) gives me my best results. So, I challenge you to get some rest, but only after you have earned it, of course!