Here at Rockstar Fitness we are all about creating a supportive, educational and encouraging environment to unlock your inner athletic potential. This being said there is a fine line between training for gains and over training and so in this article I would like to discuss the importance of a rest day or rest week, and how this rest period can help you move forward rather than standing still.
I completely understand that the idea of taking a rest when your in the swing of things, seeing gains and are happy with the way your body is looking is difficult as by this stage your ability to sit still is well and truly forgotten.
The goal is that we start to develop a mature approach to exercise. There is a difference between taking a rest period and taking time off. A rest period usually lasts between 1 – 7 days with all other components of your exercise regime remaining the same i.e diet, sleep patterns and attitude towards physical daily tasks (taking the stairs instead of the escalator, walking/ cycling to work, going for a daily walk). Taking time off is what the majority of us look most forward to, this when we tend to let our inner wild child go crazy, we indulge in sweet treats, lye on the beach or couch for hours on end catching up on Game of Thrones, exercise being the last thing on our minds.
The point of a rest period is to prevent overtraining. Overtraining means we stop making progress and can even start to move backwards in both our strength and fitness. Over training is a common problem in weight training, runners and the majority of all other athletes. It can be a behavioural, physical or emotional response to the volume and intensity of exercise that does not allow for the appropriate recovery time.
Improvements in strength and fitness can only occur after adequate rest following a hard or intense training session. If the appropriate rest isn’t implemented then complete regeneration cannot occur. If this imbalance between excess training and inadequate rest persists, then the individual's performance will eventually plateau and decline.
Overtraining occurs more readily if the individual is simultaneously exposed to other physical and psychological stressors, such as jet lag, ongoing illness, overwork, menstruation and poor nutrition. It is a particular problem for bodybuilders and other dieters who engage in intense exercise while limiting their food intake.
There are a number of ways to manage the effects of over training, these include;
-Taking a break from training to allow time for recovery.
- Reducing the volume and/or the intensity of the training.
- Suitable periodization of training.
- Splitting the training program so that different sets of muscles are worked on different days.
- Increase sleep time.
- Deep-tissue or sports massage of the affected muscles.
- Self-massage or myo-fascial release. (stay tuned as I will be discussing more on myo-fascial release in upcoming posts.
As I have stated in other posts, you are your own bodies best expert, and so sometimes it is important to step back and take an objective view of your physical performances and physical state. Have you been training too hard for too long, have gains begun to slow or stagger? Training hard is great and addictive but being an athlete is more than the sum of the training. Be mature and be realistic, our bodies cannot sustain high work volumes for long periods of time, so take a rest period of 2-7 days and watch your strength and fitness get back on track.