The Importance of Balancing Workouts with Periods of Rest

rest and recovery
It’s been a long cold winter and you’ve noticed you’ve gained a few inches, all in the wrong places. When the days are warm and sunny you’re out there running daily, hitting the gym and going to extremes trying to compensate for those lazy days where you didn’t feel like braving the cold.

Even a trip to the gym in below freezing temperatures keeps you indoors and unfortunately, overdoing it to compensate could be (and probably is) doing more harm than good. Here is some of what you need to know about the importance of periods of rest between workouts – strenuous exercise of any kind.

Learn from the Pros

Before getting into some specifics, the best advice is to learn from the pros. Have you ever wondered why coaches mandate a certain number of days between training? While they may urge their pro players to do stretches and limbering techniques on rest days, most coaches forbid (yes you heard that right!) their athletes to hit the gym on days they should be resting. There is plenty of biological research behind this practice and coaches know well what can happen to their athletes if they don’t allow their bodies time to recharge.

What Happens During Rest?

One key term to learn is ‘overtraining.’ For a period of time the muscles continue to strengthen but at some point, muscle tissue begins to break down if the toxins produced during workouts aren’t eliminated from the body. Even all those antioxidants you are supplementing with won’t do much good if you don’t give the body time to eliminate the free radicals responsible for breaking down that tissue. It takes time to repair, so you must ensure that tissues have time to regenerate and replenish stores of energy.

Note: Use antioxidants sparingly because new evidence suggests they can actually interfere with muscle growth at high levels.

How Sleep Deprivation Impacts Performance

Most people know that sleep deprivation is responsible for a number of health and mental issues. However, when it comes to athletes, this can be critical. A few restless nights won’t do much damage, but continued sleep deprivation can result in decreased production of the all-important human growth hormone and can alter your mood and increase levels of stress. If you find that your sore and aching body can’t get comfortable when hitting the sack, you’ve got the wrong mattress! You need to find one with the right comfort (support) level for your body.

On Choosing the Right Amount of Support for Adequate Rest

Check out reviews on sites like Sleep Sherpa to figure out which kind of mattress is best suited to your needs. Don’t let sleep deprivation decrease levels of aerobic endurance when there’s an easy fix! You may not be going for the Gold, but you do want to get the most out of your workouts so that you can stay in shape without doing further damage already done from months of inactivity. And, one final bit of advice is to fight the urge to sit it out again next winter! If nothing else, set up a home gym to keep yourself from getting lazy. At some point in life, and believe it or not it happens to everyone, you will find that getting that ‘spring training’ going again will no longer appeal to you.

By all means, keep the workouts going, but refresh and regenerate with adequate periods of rest.

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