Picture this: you’re on your way home after your final workout session of the week, muscles still bulging from that impeccable final few sets that you managed to squeeze out. And what a week it’s been, you haven’t missed a single day of training, you stuck to your diet almost 100% and you still have the drive to keep pushing forward and keep going tomorrow.
Upon first glance this scenario sounds just about perfect. The perseverance to keep on pushing, the mental fortitude to deal with post-workout strains and the dedication to stick to an optimal diet – they’re all in there. However, there’s one key element that’s missing, an element that is vital to any successful training program. A key piece of the puzzle that often ends up being detrimental to your workout in its entirety. What is it? Very simple – smart and effective resting.
So, where do we begin?
Step 1: SELF-EVALUATION
First things first, you have to establish your physical capabilities and how they sync with your choice of workout. As important as confidence is, making an incorrect judgement in this regard can severely impair your progress. I’ve met countless people who were incredibly eager to train, who made a gigantic leap of faith from being almost completely physically inactive straight on to grueling and restless training routines. Want to know what they had in common? Almost all of them quit around 1-2 months later.
Being self-aware in your workout doesn’t just mean selecting the one that suits you the best. It also means making the correct decisions when evaluating your rest.
For example, someone with little to no sporting background should not auto-select the classic scenario of “1 workout day, 1 rest day”. The initial 2-3 weeks of starting a training regime are difficult and improper rest during that time is often the cause of people giving up. Your body struggles to adjust to the sudden changes in physical movement while your metabolism tries its best to cope with the shift. A lack of rest further aggravates the situation and before you know it – you’re out.
My advice to all beginners – start slow and include 2 days of rest in between workouts. Fact of the matter is, the amount of time for DOMS to kick in varies between people and 2 days will result in a balanced and more sustainable rest period. Maintain the 2-day rest period for 2-4 weeks before attempting a shift in your recovery period.
Step 2: MAKING ACTIVE ADAPTATIONS
Upon establishing your rest periodicity, attempting to actually maintain it becomes the next really important step. Whether the initial training excitement fades and your biggest struggle is resting for 1 day instead of 3 or you quickly develop into a gym-addicted junkie, certain that every day of skipping gym is basically a complete waste of time – the importance of resting does not diminish one single bit.
Before I continue, allow me to list just some of the side-effects of failing to maintain healthy rest:
So, if you’ve recently started to work out and are feeling some of these symptoms, it is highly possible that you are not properly managing your rest schedule. But enough about problems, let’s talk solutions!
A thing that people point to as being a key element actually sounds quite vague – listen to your body and respond accordingly. As mentioned previously, each individual responds to exercise in different ways and there is no clear-cut solution that would benefit everyone’s needs. But the reality of it is quite simple – actively think about what you’re doing, experiment with different solutions and monitor your body’s responses. Here are a few examples:
Possible solution: More intricate workouts require more detailed solutions, so in such a situation,
2 courses of action are possible:
These are just a few examples of how imperfect workout routines can be improved by, paradoxically, adding more rest to them. But the truth is overtraining is a real thing and should not be taken lightly. Just like the saying goes, “It’s not how hard you train, it’s how well you recover.”
Cherish your body and allow it the rest it deserves. Trust me, you’ll love the results!
Step 3: RESTING WHEN WORKING OUT
At first glance that might sound like a weird statement. The gym is meant for pumping iron, getting your sweat on, making #gains…right?
Not allowing your body to recuperate in between exercises is detrimental to your physical improvement as well as your stamina. I definitely suggest checking out this article which explains the different levels of rest that are required based on your exercise routine, your primary workout goals and other deciding factors – definitely worth a read! For a more simple approach, try to stick to these 3 guidelines for resting:
- Stretching. Most of us are used to stretching before our workouts, some do light stretching both before and after. Few people stretch in-between exercises.
- Resting between exercises. There’s a lot to be said about resting between exercises and the experience varies between different people, various exercise routines and other factors. But there are 2 pieces of advice that everyone can stick to: