Rest or Recovery? Why not both?
Rest and recovery are somewhat interchangeable terms, but there are some differences. In general terms, rest can be described as “to stop being active for a period of time in order to relax and get back your strength, or to cause someone or something to stop doing an activity in order to get back strength” (Press, Cambridge University, 2019). This includes rest periods during your workout, as well as the rest between sessions. Recovery is defined as “a return to a normal state of health, mind or strength” (Oxford, 2019). From this, we can say that you need to rest so that you can recover, whether it is from an operation, having the cold/flu or a workout.
From a fitness perspective, when you are regularly exercising you will understand the important role rest and recovery play in your exercise routine. You recognize that to get the most out of your physical output, you need to give your body time to adapt and grow from the physical stress that you have put it under. So, how can you be sure that you are getting adequate rest and recovery in relation to the amount, intensity and type of exercise that you’re doing? In part, it will come down to the programming that your exercise is following, as well as the amount of time you’re willing to commit to your exercise.
To start off with, you need to look at your week as a whole to determine when you should implement rest and recovery to maximize your physical growth potential from your training. Factoring the number of days you’ll train and the type of training, will help you decide what type of activity should be done on each day. As an example, we’ll use David who has the goals of gaining strength, increasing muscular size and improving his cardiovascular conditioning. David is prepared to dedicate six (6) days a week to achieve his goals. To maximize his results, David’s aim is to target the major muscle groups in his body on multiple days during the week. To avoid over-training (which is indicated by “a feeling of general malaise, staleness, depression, decreased sports performance and increased risk of injury, among others” (Quinn, 2019)), David has decided to perform 3 total body strength sessions, instead of muscle-specific sessions during the week. This then leaves him with three days where you can perform differing cardio exercises, and give his muscles a chance to repair from the stress of the strength sessions.
Now if David decided that he wanted to lift weights more frequently while still getting sufficient rest and time for his body to adapt, the way he could do this would be structuring his entire week so that the same muscle groups weren’t being trained on consecutive days.
An effective rest day is one that gives you a break from the physical stress of your workouts through activities which give you the chance to recharge. Whether you make use of saunas or steam rooms, foam rolling or massage there are plenty of options available for you to use so that you can maximize your rest and recovery. Find one, or two, that you enjoy and can do frequently, and make them a part of your routine.
Remember, it is highly recommended to have a day off from your exercise routine without feeling guilty. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you have to be in the gym on a daily basis. To make consistent progress towards your health and fitness goals, avoiding the negative consequences of over-training is important. In the same way that you schedule your workouts, you should also schedule your rest and recovery. Doing this will give your body the best opportunity to repair, rebuild and improve strength.
If you are unsure of how to do this for your specific needs, and would like assistance, get in touch today. Together we can form an effective training program that will help you gain the most benefit from your program.
Oxford. (2019). Lexico Dictionary. Retrieved from https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/recovery
Press, Cambridge University. (2019). Retrieved from Cambridge Dictionary: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/rest
Quinn, E. (2019). Why Athletes Need Rest and Recovery After Exercise. Retrieved from VeryWell Fit: https://www.verywellfit.com/the-benefits-of-rest-and-recovery-after-exercise-3120575