Rest is important for any workout program because the time spent outside the gym is the time during which you make progress. Working out actually causes trauma to your muscles, and this trauma is repaired after your workouts when your body is at rest. Giving your body rest provides time for your body to use nutrients to rebuild and repair your muscles. This can produce increases in muscle mass and muscle strength.
How do you judge how much rest is adequate? This can be difficult because each person has different resting needs. However, research suggests that the optimal rest period for most people will be about five days. This means that you should rest for four days before working out the same muscle group again. In the meantime, you can exercise other muscle groups or take complete rest days.
Nutrition is an important part of your workout regime. There are certain nutritional strategies which may assist with this. What you eat during the recovery period after workouts influences how effectively your body can recover.
Consuming carbohydrates and protein following exercise can stimulate muscle protein synthesis, which drives muscle growth, according to research from the December 2010 issue of the “International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism.”
In addition to resting and eating a combination of protein and carbohydrates, you can make the most of your recovery time though active rest. Active rest is preferable to stretching and absolute rest for reducing muscle fatigue. What exactly is “active rest”? Active rest consists of light exercise, such as unweighted lifting or light aerobic work.
There are also psychological benefits, as well as physiological. Rest is physically necessary so that the muscles can repair, rebuild and strengthen. For recreational athletes, building in rest days can help maintain a better balance between home, work and fitness goals.
Without sufficient rest time between workouts, the body will continue to break down from intensive exercise. Symptoms of over-training often occur from a lack of recovery time. Signs of over-training include a feeling of general malaise, staleness, depression, decreased sports performance and increased risk of injury, among others.
If you’re a “weekend warrior” it can be common to experience muscle soreness that lasts for a week or two, just as seasoned exercisers will be sore after a tough workout. Yes, you should keep working out even though you are sore.
Just be sure to build in rest time.
Ideally, rest the muscles you worked for 1-2 days after a workout.
Take at least one day off between strength-training sessions, and if you are still very sore, take two days off. (This means from lifting, not from all exercise such as cardio.) If you don’t let your muscles recover and repair, they will continue to break down and you will actually get weaker. (To help prevent soreness in the future, and alleviate some of it now, be sure to: (1. Always warm-up for 5-10 minutes and cool-down for at least 5 minutes. (2. Stretch after a warm-up, during your workout, and after you are done. Only stretch when your muscles are already warm from some kind of light activity.
(3. Stay active. The more your muscles move, the faster they will recover from exercise and soreness. If you choose to rest completely instead of “actively recovering” with light exercise, you’ll probably be sore longer.
And remember, a little “R & R” is not only good for you, but is a necessity!
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Sidney Wilson is a Las Vegas-based celebrity fitness trainer and lifestyle coach dedicated to providing his clients with the tools needed to “Get Vicious.” Through rigorous workouts and extensive nutrition coaching, Sidney trains clients at The Get Vicious Training Center located at 5693 South Jones Blvd. Suite 103, Las Vegas, NV 89118, or remotely around the world through his website www.sidneywilson.com. Sidney can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org