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Put Your Feet Up and Rest a While

If we were to ask you what part of your workout was the most important, what would you say?

Would it be the warmup and stretch period?  The weights or resistance workout?  The cardio?

Depending on your goals, all those can be very important.  But there’s one part of your workout you cannot ignore.  Regardless of your goals.

Recovery.

That’s right, one of the most important parts of your workout, isn’t even working out.

Your body is not built to push and push until you can’t push anymore.  You need to rest.  That means knowing your limits during your workout, and not exceeding them.  And it means having a good amount of time between workouts.

Think about professional athletes.  If anyone knows how to maintain a body in peak condition, it’s these guys.  And they don’t give their hardest workouts every day without a break.

They have different phases of training.  Typically, they have a pre-season, in-season, post-season, and off-season routine.

It’s a cycle, just like you should do.

So, what should it look like for you, if you’re trying to get into shape, or your training for an event, like a triathlon?

Try going for 4-5 weeks of intense activity, followed by a 1-2-week recovery period.  Focus the recovery time on activities like light walking, foam rolling, massage, or yoga.

You’ll find that even during this light exercise phase, you’ll continue to see gains in strength, weight loss and sports performance.

If you don’t allow your body to recover, you’ll be more susceptible to injury and sickness.

What about the 4-5 weeks of intense training?  Does that mean you should be in the gym 5 hours a day, every day?  No, and for the same reason you have the recovery period.

When you lift weights, or do any kind of resistance training, you’re creating countless microtears in your muscles.  You could say you’re deliberately injuring them.  But after the workout, when they heal and grow back, is when the actual muscle gain happens.  After a good workout, your muscles need about 48 hours to repair and recover.

That doesn’t mean you can only exercise one out of three days.  It does mean you need to be smart about your exercise program.  One option is to rotate muscles groups.  One day do arms and shoulders, one day do chest and back, one day do legs, etc.  By the time you get through all your muscle groups, you’ll be ready to go back to the first.

Even then, you shouldn’t really exercise every day.  Six days is plenty, and 3-5 is a good place to be.  Just remember that if you want to see results, 2-3 times a week should be your minimum.

Recovery, nutrition, hydration, and rest, all combine to rebuild your muscles.  Don’t neglect any of them.

We wish you good health,

Columbia Basin Racquet Club

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