We are often told that our muscles don't actually grow while we are training - but while we are resting. As a person who has come to love exercise, training can often be the part of the day I most look forward to. The rush of endorphins and sense of accomplishment that comes with completing a session is definitely addictive - and always rewarding. So I can understand that there are many people who hesitate to take a designated rest day, or to put the required effort into planning rest. Rest is a very important element of any training plan, as your body cannot perform at its best when it is worn down or tired, and over training can often lead to injury.
But how do we ensure that our rest is just as effective and efficient as our nutrition and training ?
Massage: I have personally experienced the benefits of massage, and include a sports massage into my program weekly. Anna Barton, Director of Body Matters Massage Therapy in Ponsonby Auckland explains in detail the benefits of regular massage in accelerating recovery after training. "Whether you are training for the marathon, playing your team sport, or simply working out to keep fit and healthy, a skilled sports massage has many benefits will assist and increase your performance. Massage throughout your training schedule will address any issues that may arise, significantly decreasing risk of injury, as well as can prevent or speed up recovery of injury. Massage will increase your muscle tone and prevent or relieve delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) by encouraging blood and lymph flow throughout the body, and will flush metabolic wastes i.e. lactic acid that build up during training, as well as prevent muscle fatigue. Massage can also help a person manage stress by releasing endorphins that will provide pain relief, as well as can increase your energy levels. And lets not forget it feels really good!"
Nutrition: While weight training, you are depleting your body's sources of energy. Eating within 30 minutes of completing weight training is an important tool in recovery after a session. Protein is essential for tissue repair and muscle growth to maintain your metabolism. In order for your body to recover and grow, it is important to replace your existing protein stores. Fuelling your body with the correct nutrition and good protein choices will also provides satiety which reduces cravings for high carbohydrate and fatty foods.
Hydrate: Often an exercise session will leave you sweaty - and that's a good thing! However, it is also an indicator that your body has lost a lot of fluids during your session. The time it takes our bodies to recover from a session can be extended if we are dehydrated. It is a good idea to ensure you are sipping water throughout your session. Once your session is finished, it is a good idea to take advantage of feeling hot and thirsty - and drink as much water as you can! Having a 1.5L bottle of water with you throughout the day can remind you to continue to drink water - the visual reminder of the bottle on your desk is a useful tool. If you drink coffee or tea that contains caffeine, it is important that you raise your water intake as these types of liquids can actually dehydrate you.
Sleep like a baby: During sleep your body produces a hormone called growth hormone. This hormone is largely responsible for any tissue growth and repair your body requires - so getting enough quality sleep each day is essential in ensuring your body is repairing itself adequately after training and getting stronger.
Be kind to yourself: It is imperative to "Listen to your body". Commitment and dedication to a training plan is required for results - that cannot be denied. However, there is no benefit in pushing your body too hard on days that you are exhausted or unwell. The stresses of day to day life take a toll on our bodies and whilst training plans should be adhered to, it is ok to listen to your body and let it make the decision for you from time to time. Longevity and health are the priority, and a worn down body cannot work towards these things.
*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.