Rest and recovery. The two Rs are as important to your training routine as intensity, speed, metabolism, and impact; and yet, the two are often neglected. No doubt staying active every day will do your body good, but if you're on a regimented gym or exercise program, a planned day off to completely kick back and relax can be more beneficial to your workout than you know.
Particularly for those who strength train, the repair of muscle fibers, which gives you all that muscle definition, is best when your body has a day to rest. Also, if you're a runner, you need to step off the track one day a week to let your body recuperate and regear in order to maintain the momentum.
Here are five ways you body signals it's time to rest up:
- You’re Really Under The Weather: So, here's the thing. Working out can actually help ease those PMS cramps, fight that cold and alleviate your headache. In fact, light bouts of exercise have shown to boost immunity. However, if it’s more than just the common cold, don’t be a hero. This is your body’s way of telling you to chill out. Fever, chest congestion, feeling light-headed, loss of appetite, or even body ache are all signs that it’s okay to skip the gym. Your body needs the energy and resources to fight the antibodies and help you feel better. Help your body by staying put; besides, you wouldn't want to infect anyone else now, would you?
- Feeling Broken?: While it’s perfectly normal to experience a little soreness or DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) after some workouts, when the pain is unbearable to the point that you feel incapacitated, it could mean you’ve sustained a workout injury, spasm, muscle pull or tear. At this point, exercising is out of the question. In fact, a doctor's appoinment may be in order.
- Welcome To Zombie Land: Some days you just walk around in a daze, mechanically ticking off tasks on your list with too much to do in too little time. This doesn't always mean you're having one of those “I'm-too-lazy-for-the-gym-days”; it could be a sign that you're beyond tired. Mental and physical exhaustion can lead to burn outs due to work, family problems, money issues, or whatever else may be plaguing your mind. You need your rest day to cope with what's going on. Sometimes, going to the gym is just not the right answer because working out while experiencing extreme fatigue can lead to injuries, lack of coordination and alertness, and poor reflexes and form.
- You Haven’t Been Sleeping Well: For whatever reason, if you’ve been finding it hard to fall asleep and have been twisting and turning in your bed all night, sleep in. Get your priorities straight. A workout is meant to keep you healthy; but, so is nutritious food, a good night's rest, and staying hydrated. Force feeding one act while not being able to cope with another will do you no good. On days you've been unable to sleep, try and catch a nap in the evening or go to bed early and take on a workout the day after. A good snooze fest keeps you energized, helps with the wear, tear and repair of your body, aids digestion and keeps your body primed. You’re entitled to vegetate; just hold off on the Doritos.
- Post-Workout Recovery: Whether you’re looking to build muscle, strength train or be more agile, you need to let your body recover. When you’re strength training, you’re putting intense pressure on your body so as to produce the necessary force to be able to perform those moves. Weight lifting triggers the tears in your muscle fibres which then stimulates the repair cycle. For that to take place, you need some recovery time. All this simple means is that after intense strength-training or muscle building workouts, take the next day off to let those exercises work their magic. Yes, sometimes doing nothing is the best thing you can do for yourself.