When embarking on a workout program it is critical to plan "recovery days." It sounds easy but this component is often overlooked by most. When you work out you literally tear the muscle tissue, your body needs time to heel and repair the torn muscle tissue. This healing process is critical for you to make progress and see improvement.
The Principle of Adaptation states that when your body undergoes the stress of physical exercise, your body adapts and becomes more efficient. For this process to happen your training program needs scheduled rest days to give your body time to recover. Your body can only handle so much stress before it breaks down and the risk for injury is increased.
There are two different types of recovery, let's look into the two different types of recovery; short-term recovery and long-term recovery.
Short-term recovery, also called active recovery, refers to the minutes and hours just following your workout. When you finish your workout, it is important to cool down. By cooling down you will allow your body to begin the process of recovering. There are several things you should do to help your body with its short-term recovery:
- engage in low-intensity cardio and light stretching after your workout
- Work on deep breathing to replenish the oxygen stores you have burned through
- replenish your fuel stores by drinking plenty of fluids along with eating the right foods within 30-60 minutes after your workout
Long-term recovery refers to your workout schedule in the long run; days, weeks, months even for the year. There are several things you should do to help your body recover on a long-term basis:
- get plenty of sleep, this is one of the most important! HGH (human growth hormone) is naturally released in your body while you sleep. This is the hormone that helps heel and repair your muscle tissue. Inadequate sleep can cause many problems such as increase levels of cortisol, decrease in the production of HGH, decrease in aerobic endurance, along with being tired and moody during the day.
- take a day off! Give yourself time away from training, if you workout two or three days in a row make sure to take a day off
- do not train the same muscle groups on back to back days
- if your workouts are more intense then you will need more rest or have a low-intensity day with good stretching and rolling following an intense workout.
If you do not give yourself recovery time your body will potentially become over trained. Over training is not just bad for your body but to your overall health. You are much more susceptible to injury, when your body is broken down and you continue to workout you can strain or tear your muscle and put major wear and tear on your joints.
Other symptoms of over training include, chronic fatigue, loss of strength, intense muscle pain, reduced appetite, little interest in training, mood changes, higher rate of illness and slower rate of healing and recovery. It is important to allow your body some rest so you get all the benefits exercise can give you. You want to feel better because of exercise not worse.
Things you can do to avoid over training are to add variety to your workouts. Change things up a bit, for example, the day following a hard resistance training day, do low intensity cardio and stretch or gentle yoga. This will keep your body guessing and you will avoid hitting a plateau.
The human body is an amazing machine, even the best machines need a break. Make sure your workout program has scheduled recovery days. If you are unsure how to work in recovery days to your program working with a personal trainer can help to get you on track and see the benefits exercise has to offer.