The Importance of Rest and Recovery for Athletes
Rest and recovery are vitally important for athletes at all levels. In fact, when factoring the downsides of overtraining versus adequate recovery periods, the benefits are overwhelmingly in favor of those who are as serious about scheduling recovery as they are actively training.
Here’s what you need to know about the role of rest and recovery in athletic training, the dangers of neglecting it, and the advantages a good system can deliver…
Overtraining syndrome can lead to some very unwanted side effects, including:
- Decreased performance and function
- Increased number of injuries
- Getting sick more often due to the lower immune system
- Soreness and muscle and joint pain
- Brain fog
- Mental and physical fatigue
- Decreased ability to deal with stress and emotions
- High cortisol levels and lower HGH levels
- PH imbalance
- Poor metabolism
- Difficulty in gaining muscle, and fending off fat
The Advantages of Rest & Recovery
Smart rest and recovery strategies are not counterproductive. In fact, they are key to achieving more of the gains that are most desired.
Both Breaking Muscle and the University of New Mexico (UNM) have pointed to recovery as the essential ingredient in training.
The benefits of a good program and plan for this side of your training, include:
- Preserving mental energy for important tasks
- Improved aerobic performance
- Healing muscles
- Muscle growth
- Optimized metabolism
- Better returns on the time spent in active training
- Improved performance in competition
Types of Rest & Recovery for Athletes
Whether you are an elite professional athlete and competitor, or are just working on that beach body, or building your body to improve mental performance and productivity in the office, there are several types of recovery to implement.
Immediate Rest (Intervals)
The first type of recovery and the easiest to implement is intervals between sets. This can be between weight machines in the gym, different kettlebell exercises at home, or rucking sprints. It’s okay to pause for a minute in between. Just don’t hog the machines and sit there on your phone for 30 minutes, or someone is going to bounce you or slash your tires in the parking lot.
Short Term Recovery
These are your cool down periods at the end of an exercise session. Walking out that run, or stretching after lifting weight. This is important for protecting your muscles and flexibility, as well as for boosting gains in growth, definition, and elongating muscles.
Long Term Recovery
These are the days and weeks you’ll schedule to take time out from active and organized training. Don’t skimp on them. Consider them as important as every workout.
If you do nothing else for regular rest and recovery, make sure you get enough sleep. There is a reason that sleep deprivation is used as a primary form of torture. It has serious physical and phycological side effects.
New Scientist and data from Trent University and UC San Diego show that adequate sleep is the basis for all other mental functions, and problem-solving. It is when you sleep that your mind and body go to work repairing and ingraining what you’ve learned and practiced.
Fast Tips for Effective Recovery
- Get in more sleep hours before midnight
- Give a minimum of 48 hours between training the same muscle group
- Use BCAA and post-workout supplements to optimize recovery
- Switch up your variations and lengths of a workout versus rest days
- Consume more protein
- Unplug from devices and put the phone on airplane mode at night
- Use heat and hydrotherapy to soothe muscles
If you are out there getting those gains and living the #flexlife – don’t forget to take recovery seriously for optimal performance and improvements.
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