Rest days and recovery are an essential part of any training and conditioning program. In fact, some would argue that it might be as important than the workout itself. The truth is, recovery must happen before progress is made. It is key to minimizing injuries, staying in the game for the long-haul, and increasing success on days when you want to push to the max.
Schedule Rest Periods
For optimal success, make sure you take at least a 24-hour rest between intense training sessions within the same muscle group. Remember, you are breaking down your muscle tissue and depleting your energy stores when you train. Rest periods allow for the muscle fibers to repair and grow. Returning to the gym prematurely could increase your risk for injury.
Then, every 3-4 weeks, plan a total recovery week. If you are lifting, try performing half the number of reps with sub-max loads. Or do a different take on a workout. Swap your HIIT session for a hike session, for example.
Proactively scheduling your rest days and recovery weeks can keep you from overtraining syndrome (OTS), which can occur when the body struggles to regain from constant strenuous exercises. Overtraining can actually cause a decrease in performance and may even lead to serious, adverse metabolic and physiological changes within the body.
Tip: Take one of your workout slots in your recovery week and schedule a sports massage during the time you would usually work out. That way, you keep a routine, and you fit in some needed self-care.
Sleep, Hydrate, & Refuel
The whole purpose of sleep is to induce a state of restoration in the body. In fact, it is the hormonal secretions that occur during sleep that can have the most significant influence on recovery. Research shows that without adequate sleep, the body can experience a decrease in both tolerance and performance in training sessions and the healing process after. Bottom line: get your ZZZ’s and avoid screen time right before bedtime.
Dehydration not only reduces performance potential but can delay the recovery process. Exercise increases the body’s need for water and electrolytes, especially the sessions that are the most sweat producing. And how much water should you be drinking daily? Find out here.
Proper nutrition is also key to successful recovery. Make sure you have a good source of protein as it is required to rebuild muscle tissue. And don’t rule out carbs just yet. They are a muscles primary source of energy and are important for refueling your body’s glycogen stores. Consult a sports nutritionist for the best food options and fuel recommendations based on your activity level and other considerations.
Focus on Recovery Sessions
Be sure to schedule active recovery into your workout routine. Doing so can help not only with injury recovery but overall workout success. Try these:
The Smart Stick makes your favorite movements and exercises more productive. The hands push and pull each other and “drive” the body, creating balanced, an optimal range of motion from top to bottom. The unweighted version is perfect for flexibility and balance exercises.
The general idea behind rolling exercises is that by applying direct loads to your muscles, you lengthen and massage the underlying tissues. The use of rollers for effectively reducing muscle tension is now a widely accepted fitness practice and makes it easier to resume those challenging workouts.
Read more about how to use foam rollers in recovery here:
The Mayo Clinic says that, in general, stretching may help you improve range of motion in joints, improve athletic performance, and reduce the risk of injury.
In fact, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that you stretch for 60 seconds on each major muscle group at least two times a week.
Smart Mats make stretching easy.
Read More about stretching here:
Relieve tight muscles, deep tissue knots and minor aches and pains with a variety of self-massage tools.
Hand-held roller used to relieve minor aches and pains. Designed with three-dimensional Grid® surface and AcuGRIP handles for targeted relief.
Relieve tight muscle knots in hard-to-reach areas like the neck, back, and shoulders. Features extra firm tip to provide precise pressure in deep tissue knots. Two-ball design on one end effectively targets the muscles surrounding the spine.
Massage ball designed with the three-dimensional Grid® pattern for targeted relief in a compact size. Lightweight and portable!
Increase flexibility and relieve pains in the foot and forearm areas. Patterned surface promotes blood flow.