The basic factors in general well-being are sleep, exercise, rest and food. Thus, what makes a fitness or wellness program successful is the relationship between rest and active days. In an optimized wellness or fitness program rest and recovery has a significant role. In fact, all the development happens when your body and muscles have enough time to recover from exercises. So as you start to exercise more and regularly it is important to remember to schedule enough rest days and rest weeks to your work out plans. For some people, like me, who get too excited about sports and working out in general, adding recovery weeks in every 6-7 weeks will ensure that you will not end up having OTS (Overtraining Syndrome).
What is OTS?
It is a severe condition you could acquire if you train too hard, too often and have little recovery. Over-training can cause sleep problems, weight gain, cravings and poor immune system functions. Top coaches and personal trainers know that the secret in getting results comes from the workout and what happens during the recovery period.
How to invest on enough recovery:
- Get enough sleep. On the days you do a high-intensity (HIIT)workout, make sure that you can sleep well so that your body can be fully recovered before your next workout.
- If you do a lot of HIIT training (which is not advisable) have two rest days or something lighter activity in between them. For instance Monday HIIT, Tuesday rest, Wednesday low cardio, Thursday HIIT.
- Arrange recovery weeks every 6-7 weeks or when you will feel like it. Listen to your body. These recovery weeks will do wonders to your mind as well. Suddenly you will have a lot of extra time to do anything you want instead of going to the gym.
- Alternate between high- , medium- and low-intensity days.
- Remember that even though it is a ”rest” day, you should not be a couch potato all day. Each day of the week should contain some sorts of movement.
- If your muscles are really sore, wait until the soreness is gone to exercise again.
- Listen to your body. It will tell you if you really need a rest day. When your mind resists the idea of an exercise, listen to it. This is true for consistent exercises, not necessarily for beginners.
- Go to a massage. I try to do this every 3 weeks.
- Try a foam roller, a compression ball and help reduce muscle tightness. I use a foam roller four times a week. Usually in the evenings when I'm watching TV or relaxing when my son has gone to bed. Using a foam roller has had on impact on my recovery. Immediately after I have used this, my muscles feel better, especially in my calves.
- Go to sauna. The heat will increase the body's circulation which instead removes metabolic waste. Or if you are more into cold water, try a cooling bath or swimming in a cold lake.
- After workout, have a nutritious snack or meal. Evidence suggest that having a snack with 3:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio within 30-45 minutes post workout can help you to recover better.
Finally I would like to remind you that some muscle soreness after exercise is normal. However, when you initially start exercising, you should start slowly, although many believe that a workout must be so hard that you should feel significant soreness for many days. That is not the purpose of a workout and can affect your motivation when you are just starting to incorporate healthy habits in your life! Also keep in mind to focus on quality not quantity: it is better to train three quality workouts, such as one HIIT workout, one steady-state run and one tempo run, in a week than do three HIIT workouts and three steady-state runs per week.
To conclude, trust me, recovery weeks will have a positive effect on your exercise program 💪
Invest in your recovery,