Working out hard is important, but so is rest. In this post let’s go over the importance of rest and recovery for productivity and improving your workout rest days.
The idea of an avid exerciser might conjure up images of hard work every day lifting heavy weights followed by sore muscles that leave you unable to walk without a limp.
But if you push yourself to the limit each day, and ignore the importance of rest and recovery, you might actually take steps in the wrong direction.
Let me break down the misconception of hard work in the gym, the benefits of rest and recovery, how to balance fitness and work, and some tips to recover better as soon as today.
I. The misconception of hard work in the gym
You might have been told before, by a friend, partner, family member, or maybe your local class instructor that being extremely sore after a workout is a good thing, and in fact, you should aim for that every time.
Maybe you’ve seen huge muscled people go for hours in the gym 7 days a week.
You take all this information, and you start going to the gym. You go for hours, are excessively sore every time, and never miss a session.
First of all, that takes a lot of willpower. Willpower does not last forever, because you will have a bad day eventually. So speaking for the long run, it most likely won’t last. What lasts are strong habits built through repetition one small step at a time.
Anyways, you might see some immediate gains from all your hard work. But you are also just as likely to start experiencing burnout, a lack of energy, increased levels of stress etc.
And eventually? You probably are going to get injured too.
You need to condition your body over time to handle more load. It is a slow approach, not a one-day switch.
Those people that are ripped and work out each day? For most of them, the natural ones who aren’t just genetic freaks, they take care of themselves. They sleep the needed hours. They eat right.
And they worked their body to the point where they are now. They ramped up their volume over time.
So for you, things might look different, fewer days in the gym. Less time spent working out. Probably less weight lifted too.
You can add to the volume slowly with each passing week or month. Let your body rest as much as it needs to, it will become more resilient over time. The workout rest days are just as important to fuel your journey as your work in the weight room.
II. The benefits of rest and recovery
Ok, so what is so important about rest?
In terms of exercise. Your body needs time to rebuild the muscles you are putting stress on.
Doing chests 5 days a week for example won’t be as effective for the general population as just working those muscles twice a week.
The days in between training sessions are important. Most people would do well by allowing their muscles 48 hours of rest before working them again. Those workout rest days allow this magic to happen.
Allowing no recovery means slower progress even though you are doing more work.
Of course, that doesn’t mean go sit on your couch all day, and don’t move. Instead, try some light work to keep moving in a moderate way. Go for a walk, stretch, or focus on mobility to movements.
Continued light movement, instead of a heavy workload every day, helps promote muscle growth as well as keeps your habit of exercise going.
Moreover, over a long period, missing sufficient rest can increase your chance of burnout and reduced energy.
But by prioritizing your own recovery you can keep your daily productivity high and help boost your mental health.
IV. Tips for rest and recovery
Let’s go over some tips to help make sure that you recover properly.
First, you might want to try some kind of mindful practice first thing in the morning. This could be some light meditation or maybe even journaling.
The idea is to just get yourself in tune with how you are feeling. Don’t just jump up and get going. Feel yourself out and really connect to your body.
If you choose to try meditation, just sit up for 5 minutes. Try not to think of anything but breathing. It’s a simple process but hard to get accustomed to at first.
Eventually, you’ll get comfortable with the flow of it all, and you could extend your time in meditation.
Second, which should be the most important tip for most people. We all tend not to get enough sleep.
The recommended amount is 7 to 9 hours of sleep.
Most of my training clients get closer to 6 if even that.
Start some kind of bedtime routine to get you in the right state of sleep. Brush your teeth, read a book, and set your things for the next day. The last thing you’d want to do is be on your phone or something highly stimulating.
Imagine going into a marathon 5 minutes after waking up. That’s not going to be a good idea, you aren’t primed for the activity.
Now apply that to your sleep, do you expect yourself to be primed for a long night’s rest just a few minutes after turning off a device designed to stimulate your brain?
Following those 2 tips for the next month doesn’t seem like much. It’s doable for most people. So go focus on the workout rest days as much as the workouts themselves.