We all like working out but the problem with some people is that they don’t know when it’s enough. It’s good to have a motivated determination towards achieving your fitness goal. However, equally if not more important is the idea of allowing yourself sufficient time to recover. There is a lot that goes on in the body when we’re working out, enough to justify the term, ‘getting ripped’.
If you’re a casual (not a fitness freak), you might think it’s just a funny term that gym-goers have come up with to make themselves sound cool. Whereas, it’s the truth. Every time we work out, we’re ripping our muscles to shreds, literally destroying them by making them push or pull against heavy resistance.
Whether you’re going on a long and intense run or lifting heavy weights, you can’t go on to do it every day at the same pace. That is unless you want to subject yourself to torturous pains of DOMS, muscle fatigue, spasms and/or muscle tears, etc.
So, how long should someone spend resting and recovering before working out again? Research says your muscles can heal themselves in 24-48 hours, meaning you should give yourself at least 2 days to recover before you can use the same set of muscles again.
How should you spend your time in recovery? Let’s just say it’s more than just lying down and doing nothing. Below, you’ll find the reasons/benefits of rest days in a regimen as well as the ways you can enhance your muscle recovery.
Benefits of Recovery / Rest Days
It’s great that you want to put on those new workout tank tops and get to work, but you got to understand that the risks are real if you keep going without allowing your body sufficient time to recover.
Prevent Muscle Fatigue
Muscle fatigue is probably not that serious a term for people to take it seriously. Let’s go with overtraining as it’s much easier to understand the cause behind the problems this leads to. What’s noteworthy is the fact that there’s research that has proven that Overtraining Syndrome is a real risk that all men and women pursuing fitness goals are vulnerable to.
Countless challenges can arise in your short-term as well as long-term health. Examples of the former can include soreness, cramps, and/or mild pains from overused or neglected muscles.
Whereas, examples of long-term health issues can include anorexia, impaired metabolism, hormonal dysfunction, physical burnouts, poor immunity, and even increased cardiovascular stress.
Risks of Injury
There are innumerable horrific videos on the internet showing how gym enthusiasts hurt themselves when they get in over their heads. While not all of them get injuries because they were trying to lift more than they could, the argument still stands that going faster and over the limit is almost guaranteed to result in someone getting hurt.
Whether you’re pushing or pulling too much weight, trying to do an exercise faster than it’s supposed to be done, or doing way more reps and sets than you should do, you’re going to injure yourself. Although it may not necessarily be from a dumbbell falling on your foot, you are still liable to experience unbearable pain from torn muscles, injured or fractured ligaments, etc.
The fact that you’re working out too much means that you’re also compromising on your form and posture. These are neglected yet crucial factors that eventually cause major problems in not only executing an exercise but also achieving the full effectiveness of your training.
One of the most common things people do when they’re exercising too much is not doing it right, e.g. lifting weights with weird angles and doing uneven reps/sets, etc.
Not only are you paving the way for injuries, but you’re also producing adverse fitness results that you’ll regret when your arms turn out one bigger than the other.
Recovery Period Guide
First thing’s first. Working out means perspiration and excessive use of energy. This will not only drain you but will also increase your body’s temperature, leading to dryness in your mouth and throat.
Although drinking water during workouts is discouraged, make sure not to let yourself feel thirsty for too long. If you’re working out and don’t feel thirsty at all, drink some water after a few exercises anyway. A lot of people don’t feel the need to hydrate themselves in colder weather, increasing the risk of obliviously running the risk of dehydration.
Many people have a different approach to eating healthy. That’s why, without naming specific food items, let’s just talk about the nutrients you need. Firstly, add protein to your diet as much as you can. Protein is your best friend when it comes to recovery because it directly helps your muscles heal and regenerate stronger tissue.
For all those who want to gain muscle or lose fat, you need to ingest healthy carbs that come with fiber and protein to reward yourself for the hard work you’re putting in.
Supplements like creatine are known for their health benefits when involved in training regimens regularly. Regularity in your diet is one of the strictest principles of working out. It may not be the enjoyable part of achieving a fitness goal, but it is certainly the most essential one.
Low Impact Exercises
Should you do nothing all day and eat healthy for recovery? Well, no, and yes. You should eat healthy regardless of what day it is but when it comes to physical activity, you need to make sure you’re not pushing yourself too hard.
There’s a fine line between the intensity with which you pull weights in the gym and a few simple push-ups and jumping jacks you do in the morning. Engaging in light cardio is encouraged to keep yourself functional even on rest days. However, watch the intensity and limit yourself to little to no weights.
Importance of Warm-Ups and Cooldowns
You might be familiar with warming up but you might not be working on your cooldowns. Bringing your body back to its normal state isn’t as easily done as some gym regulars might think. You don’t just drop the 200-pound weight and assume that you’re all good to go home.
You don’t have to be aware of the body’s ANS and SNS (nervous systems) in detail. Just know that there’s a flight or fight response that our brains immediately manifest our bodies with when we engage in something that demands extra strength/force.
We all go into this flight or fight mode when we work out, but not all of us come back down from it when we leave the gym. The way to do that is simple. Work yourself down by engaging in consecutive workouts of decreasing intensity.
Stretching and Flexibility
On your off days, especially if you’re working on building muscles, make sure that you put on a comfortable pair of workout shorts and get to stretching.
Achieving flexibility should be a priority because it can help you avoid countless injuries in the long run, while also increasing the duration for which you stay active in your life. Avoiding back problems or any other musculoskeletal pain can be made easier if you work on increasing your flexibility by doing stretching exercises.
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