Rest & Recovery. Why is it so important?
It goes without saying that fully committing and working hard in a Personal Training session, or any other discipline you may choose to do, is vital if you’re going to get the most from it. Generally we’re all time poor due to other commitments with work, family etc so we want to maximise the return from the training we’re able to do.
So is giving everything you’ve got to a training session the only way to get the best possible results?
Sadly, not many of us give enough consideration to the part of training that can contribute massively to yielding the best results and that part is rest & recovery.
When we put our body through the stress of physical exercise it is forced to adapt and become more efficient. If we’re just getting started with an exercise programme it can be difficult at first but over time we adapt and it becomes easier. Once you adapt to a given stress, greater stress is required to continue to progress. The greater the training intensity and effort, the greater the need for planned recovery. Monitoring your workouts with a training log and paying attention to how your body feels and how motivated you are is extremely helpful in determining your recovery needs. Working with a PT will ensure that your sessions will increase in physical demand and intensity at a planned rate ensuring you do not do too much too quickly, risking injury or muscle damage.
Building recovery time into any training program is important because this is the time that the body adapts to the stress of exercise and the real training effect takes place. Recovery also allows the body to replenish depleted energy stores (muscle glycogen), fluid levels and also repair damaged tissues.
Without sufficient time to repair and replenish, the body will continue to breakdown from intensive exercise. Repeatedly training hard without sufficient recovery can be detrimental to your performance and can increase the risk of injury.
Most people know that getting enough rest after exercise is essential to high-level performance, but many still over-train and feel guilty when they take a day off.
Rest days are critical to overall performance for both physiological and psychological reasons and can also help maintain a better balance between home, work, and fitness goals whilst avoiding over-training.
Short Term Recovery
This is the immediate recovery from an intense training session or event. This often starts with the cool down part of a session where the intensity is reduced and often involves stretching the muscle groups that have been worked.
After the session has finished the focus should switch to replenishing energy stores and fluids lost during exercise and optimising protein synthesis (the process of increasing the protein content of muscle cells, preventing muscle breakdown, and increasing muscle size) by eating the right foods in the post-exercise meal.
This is also the time for soft tissue (muscles, tendons, ligaments) repair and the removal of chemicals that build up as a result of cell activity during exercise.
Long term recovery
If you’re training year round then long term recovery becomes important. Any training programme designed by our Personal Trainers / Triathlon Coaches will include recovery periods built into an annual training schedule. This is most evident in the case of athletes who will go through a number of training cycles (macro, meso & micro) in a year and will have periods of time dedicated to a particular aspect of their training (preparation, base, build, peak). This is where you would see changes to a variety of training variables such as workouts types, changes in intensity, time, distance etc and the inclusion of cross training.
The key elements of Rest & Recovery?
Sleep is the most important aspect of recovery. Sufficient amounts of sleep aids mental health, hormonal balance and muscular recovery. Everyone has different needs based on their lifestyle, workout intensity etc but as a guide you should be aiming for 8 hours per night of quality sleep.
Drinking adequate amounts of water is critical to health, energy, recovery and performance as it helps all of our bodily functions.
The simplest way to check your hydration level is to look at the colour of your urine when you go to the toilet. If it is clear to pale yellow you are hydrated. The darker it is the less hydrated you are and you need to drink more water.
Sports drinks should only be used before, during, and immediately after strenuous training. Don’t drink them all the time simply because they taste good.
Everything you eat has the ability to contribute towards your health and performance or to hinder performance/ recovery and be detrimental to your health.
Eating clean and balanced meals (not processed) in moderation is proven to be effective to remain healthy and increase performance. The key is achieving balance so you get the results you want, but can also function as a normally and enjoy life.
If you need specific help with your nutrition, one of our qualified nutrition coaches could help. Full details are available on our website via this link:
Flexibility is important to moving well and remaining pain/ injury free. Include dynamic stretching in your warm-ups while saving static stretching for afterwards.
If you identify tight areas, work on them. If you’re not sure how best to stretch, speak with your Personal Trainer who will guide you.
Spending some additional time focusing on rest and recovery can pay great dividends although it’s often over looked because it takes time. Dedicating time to sleep, hydration, nutrition and mobility will improve your performance, decrease recovery time, and lower your risk of injury.
Don’t ignore your body until it becomes too late and you’re forced to take unnecessary time off due to injury or fatigue.