Next up in our recovery series, we’re talking about managing your training load with the use of rest days. Taking days off is crucial for recovery, optimising results and ensuring training consistency over the long term. But first, what happens when the excitement of a new goal, programme or resolution take hold and we over do it?? We end up overtraining!
Over training occurs when an individual is training at a level which exceeds their ability to recover. Over training is common and is highly detrimental to physical and mental health. When we over-train, we run the risk of not getting optimum results from all our hard work and instead often see a reduction in performance over the weeks, an increase in fatigue, reduction of the immune system, increased pain and injury and decreased mood.
After training and exercise our muscle tissue sustains some very mild damage. This is what causes delayed onset muscle soreness (or DOMS for short). While this muscle damage may sound ominous, it is actually the catalyst to muscle adaptation and growth, making the muscle more efficient at performing that particular activity.
In order for these positive adaptations to occur we must allow the muscle to adequately heal, allowing time for new muscle tissue to form. This is why taking rest days, particularly when you are sore is so important.
- We recommend two rest days per week. You can do some gentle exercise such as a leisurely walk or stretching sessions, but try to view these as recovery days. More rest days may be needed if you are new to exercise or coming back from injury.
- Changing your type of training is also helpful in aiding recovery. This may take place in the form of mixing up resistance and cardio classes or perhaps cross-training with swimming or cycling.
- It is OK to take an “easy week” every now and then. Many athletes take every fourth week as a reduced training load week. This should be used as a week to reduce the volume of your training, resting when you feel you need to and training when it feels right.
- Active recovery is best! Rest time doesn’t necessarily mean lots of time on the couch or in front of the computer. It’s a great time to engage with the people around you and move without pushing yourself too hard.
Your body will thank you for the rest days and the quieter week every now and then. Good luck with the training!