Sometimes you just need a break from your normal exercise routine. Recently, I’ve been traveling quite a bit for work, which has given me the opportunity to change up my normal workout routine, and even take a break from it. Since I was working some longer hours, I actually managed to take a week off of exercising, which was a much deserved break. One thing to note though, even though I took a break from my exercise routine, I did not take a break from continuing to eat healthy and avoid bad foods.
After letting my body recover for that week, I can say I honestly felt great getting back into it. My knee and back felt much healthier, and due to the high impact workouts of Insanity and P90X i’ve been doing for the past couple years, seemed to heal up a bit. The shoulders felt better, and overall, I just felt more energetic.
I came to realize rest is good. Rest is great, awesome, amazing! After 2 1/2 years of non-stop workouts, with only a day or two rest here and there, what I really needed was some time for my body to recover. Its true what they say, time heals all… By constantly working out, and not giving my body the proper time to recover, I was doing my workouts an injustice. That week or so of recovery time is crucial for allowing the muscles that you have broken down to heal and recover. It is the rest that allows you to recover so you can be strong, and thereby handle the increased weight, and increased number of sets and reps needed to gain further.
In researching how rest and recovery can affect the body, I found some interesting evidence.
Why does rest play such an important role in muscle recovery? It is during sleep where Growth Hormone (GH) levels are at their highest. Physiologic improvement in bodybuilding can only occur during the rest period following hard training. This is also why consuming the proper foods and supplements immediately following such training is key.
Hard intense training (whether it is aerobic training which will challenge the cardiovascular system or weight training which will challenge the cardiovascular system to an extent and the muscular systems) conditions the body. Such workouts will improve efficiency of the heart, increase capillaries in the muscles bringing greater blood flow (more oxygen and nutrition), and increase glycogen stores and mitochondrial enzyme systems within the muscle cells (resulting in a much fuller look).
Immediately following a workout, during a recovery period these systems build to greater levels to compensate for the stress that you have applied. The result is that you are now at a higher level of performance. However, if proper recovery time (rest) is not given then the body can not regenerate.
The body will store less glycogen which is why you will look flat when you overtrain. If this imbalance between intense excess training and inadequate recovery (rest) time persists then performance will decline.
Without proper recovery time, not only will you reach a performance plateau, but you also will run the risk of injury, and may even experience reduced performance (less strength, less endurance, etc.).
So there you have it folks. We all need proper rest and recovery. Without it, we are depriving ourselves of one key and crucial aspect of our exercise and nutritional routine.