Rest to Progress

From my experience of working with clients, in order to help you achieve your health and fitness goals, the 3 key areas to focus on are training, nutrition and rest/recovery. However, a crucial component that people often overlook is rest/recovery. Rest days should form a vital part of your training programme. People often assume (wrongly) that you get stronger and fitter whilst training, for instance in the gym or going running. However, it is during your rest days (alongside correct nutrition) that you benefit from your work done during your training session - whether that be in the gym or playing sport for instance. It is only when you stand back and give your body (or certain areas of our body) a chance to recover and get stronger and fitter that you will keep on progressing towards achieving your goals. Rest and recovery days are important for a number of reasons including:

  • To allow your energy levels to be replenished (restore glycogen levels)
  • To enable your muscles, bones and ligaments/tendons to recover, repair and grow stronger
  • To prevent boredom and mental burnout and help to maintain motivation

There are a number of strategies that you can use to incorporate rest days into your training programme, including:

  • Using active rest days so, for instance, you might train with intensity at the gym or go running on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and then for your rest days, you might go for a light walk on Tuesday and Saturday and do a stretching session on Thursday and Sunday.
  • Using split days, so for instance, you may train your upper body on a Monday and Thursday and your lower body on Tuesday and Friday.
  • Using active rest blocks, so for instance, 1 week out of every 6-8 weeks you can reduce the intensity of your training and focus on other 'activities' like swimming, walking, cycling, low intensity gym work etc.

As with your training and nutrition, use moderation and common sense with your rest/recovery strategy. Rest days do not mean sitting in your chair all day drinking cans of beer and eating takeaways. I have spoken to many people who train well and effectively but then un-do all of their good work on their ‘rest’ days.

If you put the hard work in during your training sessions – whether that be at the gym, running or playing sport for instance - and you eat nutritionally well 80% of the time, then structured rest and recovery will allow you to make better long term progress towards achieving your goals.

Keep up the great work,

Matt

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