All work and no play would lead to a very dull life indeed. We would eventually burn out, resent the work we are doing and start on all play and barely any work.
The same can be said for our training. Going bangarang for days on end and pushing ourselves to the limit will eventually lead us to burn out. We will feel sluggish and slow, weights will begin to feel heavy and muscle soreness will linger. This method of training completely ignores the two most important aspects of fitness – rest and recovery!
Now before anyone gets to excited you can’t just do the rest – you have to earn the time spent repairing and recuperating by putting the time in in the box. But if you do train hard you must also recover hard.
First take a look at your nutrition. Getting your food intake on point is one of the most crucial elements for solid recovery. Make sure you’re getting enough protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats in your diet to facilitate your volume of training. Ensure you also drink plenty of water – we are made largely of it and being dehydrated will severely dampen your restorative ability.
Next ensure you are getting enough sleep. How much sleep you need is a very personal thing and will differ from person to person – however most people will be fine with 8 hours of solid, uninterrupted sleep a night. A consistent sleeping routine will also have a huge effect on your hormone levels – when possible try and go to bed at the same time each night and wake at the same time each morning.
Taking rests days is the next step in sound recovery. Although we think our fitness is built in the gym, it is actually constructed on our rest days. This is when our body regroups, re-assesses and re-organises itself in response to your workouts. Continually training never allows our body the time to regroup and we are left, not over-trained, but under recovered. Two to three days a week of either no or light training will allow your body the time it needs to recover appropriately.
It is also important to look after our muscle tissue. Regular foam rolling, stretching, mobility work and massages can help us to break up fibres and trigger points which allow us to maintain good movement and prevent muscles from becoming tight and restricted.
Remember – training like all things in life is much better when quality is given more thought that quantity. Most people will get their best fitness results from 4-5 quality training sessions a week backed up with good nutrition, adequate sleep and some additional recovery work. Don’t fall into the trap of more is better and take your recovery as seriously as your training.