Training to get in shape for your next holiday? Got an event coming up with which you want to challenge yourself? There is always a lot of sport on TV to get people excited and motivated to go out and get fit. However, one thing that sometimes gets neglected is rest. Rest is something that everyone knows about but not everyone puts it into practice at the appropriate times. Without the correct amount of rest, over-training can occur and this can effect both performance and health.
So, what is the correct amount of rest and when should I be resting?
Your body is usually pretty good at letting you know when you need to rest. If you have a day in the gym and train your legs then for most people, the next 24-48 hours means your legs will feel slightly sore and/or not in 100% form. This is your body’s way of letting you know that, for at least the next 24 hours, you should take it easy on your legs so that they can recover properly. However, this is not always possible as not all training programs are built around single body parts per day. This is when it is even more important to set aside 1-2 rest days in a week so that the whole of your body can get the rest it needs to perform to the best of your ability. Rest doesn’t just mean taking days out of your training program. It means making sure you are getting enough sleep (normally 8 hours a night) to enable your body to recover. Sleep is one of the most important aspects of rest because this is the only time when your muscles can fully relax and recover from your training.
Lack of rest? What are the risks?
Lack of rest carries various risks and can cause adverse effects on your health, as well as your training targets. Inadequate rest can have a negative effect on your performance as well. It causes a plateau in your training gains due to your muscles not being given enough time to recover and adapt to your training. This plateau commonly gets mistaken for not doing enough training so people tend to increase their training further which then accelerates this downfall. Eventually you will notice that your performances will start to deteriorate due to fatigue and then you will be forced to rest when it is too late.
In relation to your health, not enough rest increases your chance of injury dramatically. Your muscles are fatigued and your immune system tends to be lower than normal. This is why you see most athletes getting injured towards the end of an event. Some athletes still show the effects of muscles fatigue as much as seven days after a long event such as a marathon.
Symptoms of Over-training
- Loss of appetite
- Inability to sleep
- Muscle soreness
- Decreased performance
How to ensure you are getting enough rest
The best and most obvious way to make sure you are recovering properly from training is to make sure that you put 1-2 days of rest in your week of training. These vital rest days are usually best to schedule halfway through the week and then at the end. This will help your body recover and perform better when training. Another way to increase the amount of rest you are getting is to make sure that you are getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night. Finally, alternating body parts in the gym is a good way to rest muscle groups but at the same time staying active. Spending your rest days helping your muscles repair is always wise and doing things such as stretching, using a foam roller, having a massage or even braving an ice bath will give your muscles the best chance to recover effectively.