Recovery is the most important aspect of training for any athlete. Recovery is where your gains are made, meaning where your muscles grow and fat is burned. Most people think this happens in the gym but this is not correct... it happens on rest days. Beating yourself up in the gym everyday will not lead to the results you want and it doesn't make you a bad person if you take a day or two to recover.
Yes, that's right. All those memes you see on social media claiming that there is no such thing as rest days are lies! Rest day is the most talked about thing between any athlete and average gym goer. In fact, rest is so important that even the highest level of athletes have rest days written into their programs so that they can recover from their intense training sessions. Along with rest, your diet should remain close to the same as non-workout days. Your diet on rest days is the same, if not more important, because your gains are made here. It is important to eat properly and stay hydrated.
Most people look at rest days as being lazy or assume that your progress will suffer if you do not life every day but this is false. Although C.T. Fletcher, who is a former power lifter turned body builder, will say otherwise, I urge you to take rest and let your body recover from the stress you put on it during the week of workouts. As you work out, you place great strain on our muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, and joints. Your immune system is activated when there are muscle tears or joint strains, but if the body doesn't come out of a state of continual stress, the system doesn't have time to catch up and start patching everything up. This prevents your body from helping your muscle to grow and burn off that fat you want to get rid of.
If you choose not to rest and keep working out, you run some serious risks. Taking part in high-impact sports such as running can lead to stress on your joints and lower extremities, to a level that has the ability to splinter bones and tighten muscles. When you don't take a day off here and there, your tight calf muscles or tendons of the feet can lead to bone spurs, shin splints, muscle tears, tendon shearing, and so much more. With lifting weights the result is similar and can lead to consequences such as an increased vulnerability to back, knee, ankle, and foot injuries. If these are not serious enough, over training for prolonged periods of time can lead to the body attacking your hormones and even your immune system.
Everything we do revolves around our immune system. Its helps our bodies function normally. When we get sick, tear a muscle, get stressed out, or have a bad mood, it's our immune system that helps to fight the abnormality to bring us back to our neutral or normal self. In the case of exercise, the immune system sends out fluid to our joints and muscles to help repair them from the stress of our workouts. Although this is what it's made for and what our bodies want and need, it becomes a problem. If those joints and muscles don't get rest, the body sends out an excess of fluid that gets retained in those areas and can alter proper movement and joint integrity and create further injury. You could also be more at risk of catching a cold. With overtraining, your hormones are also at risk. For women it can cause changes in the menstrual cycle. Other hormone problems include reduced sexual desire, mental stress, depression, and anxiety.
Training= Work + Recovery. The bottom line is if you want to be an elite athlete or reach your goals, you need to rest. The time you spend in the gym should be just as important as the time you spend out of it. It's a lifestyle change. You need to make time for your workouts and in turn make time for your recovery. To find out different ways to recover and some of my own methods be sure to read part coming at you in the coming months.