Rest. What exactly does that mean when it comes to health and fitness?
- Cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength
- Remain or be left in a specific condition: “rest assured”
- An instance or a period of relaxing or ceasing to engage in strenuous or stressful activity.
- The remaining part of something.
On our quest to become lean and fit, most of us become active through manual labor at our jobs, resistance training, and even cardio conditioning. Working out requires our bodies especially our brains, lungs, and pulmonary system to increase their capacity for stress, whether that be running outside in varying terrain or squatting a loaded barbell for several repetitions and increasing weight.
Over time, the demand we place on our bodies can result in poor performance, stalls in weight loss, hormone imbalance, and potential injury. This is yet another neglected aspect of training, right along side flexibility and mobility in our bodies–the need for rest.
How much rest does YOUR body get from the stresses you place upon it? Let’s begin with rest that your body needs every day, regardless of a workout or not–Sleep.
Science states that after much research and study, the basal sleep needs of a person are INDIVIDUAL. This means this basal sleep need varies from person to person, although most studies suggest adults need anywhere from 7-9 hours of sleep for optimal performance. Optimal performance refers to everything across the board–lifestyle and work schedules will either allot for more sleep or less for YOUR individual needs. One thing is clear, and that is that loss of sleep results in several problems, such as:
- Increased risk of motor vehicle accidents
- Increase in body mass index – a greater likelihood of obesity due to an increased appetite caused by sleep deprivation
- Increased risk of diabetes and heart problems
- Increased risk for psychiatric conditions including depression and substance abuse
- Decreased ability to pay attention, react to signals or remember new information
This rest is nonnegotiable, because our bodies need it just for our central nervous system to operate effectively.
Now for those of you who lift, run, and do any combination of workouts at least 3 or more times a week we shall discuss what resting should be for you in order to get the maximum benefit from training.
Most people who workout train at least a few days during the week. Utilizing a “rest day” or a day where you do no physical training of any kind literally depends on the loads you have place on your body the day or days before. For example, squats are extremely taxing on your central nervous system. They require multiple muscle groups to execute the movement and when done progressively and with proper form, illicit a hormonal response that promotes muscle growth and the release of body fat for energy. In this instance, you could train another body part that hasn’t been worked and train the following day, or you can give your CNS a break to prepare it for the next training session.
Let’s say you did a strength training session with total body exercises as well as cardiovascular training later that day. Depending on how much exertion you put into those sessions, you might benefit from taking the following day off to recovery and “rest” your muscles.
For those of you who lift several days a week, 2 or more times a day rest days are critical. If you are training this much I would expect that you would be tracking progression of workouts and body composition in reference to your goals.
Rest is overall an “intuitive” feeling. You KNOW your body best, which means you also know when your performance is struggling or you are not progressing in your fitness program as a whole.
I’ve gone from training everyday of the week to only 4 days a week for a contest prep. You know what the difference was in my body? I was stronger, felt more rested, and hit the sessions I did have with every ounce of stamina I could throw at it at the contest prep I had when I trained only 4 DAYS A WEEK. I even won my first overall show from TRAINING LESS and RESTING more. Shocker huh? Most of the time and especially with working out LESS is MORE.
You don’t have to spend hours and every day of the week lifting to reach your goals. Unless you are an Olympian or train for a competitive sport (powerlifting, bodybuilding, sports leagues of any kind) it is not necessary to spend all your time at a gym. Most of us have spouses, children, full-time jobs, and other activities that keep our lives full and busy. It is imperative to understand how to train your body enough to get the results you want without going overboard and sacrificing the other things in life that are important to you.
Lifting that much sometimes begs the question “Are you training hard enough during sessions?” Like I said, it all translates back to your goals. If you are expending “x” amount of energy and not seeing the desired effect or result REST could be the reason why you are struggling to meet those goals.
Of course nutrition is a pivotal factor in those results, but that is another topic for another blog. When it comes to the rest YOUR body needs, you have to personally assess your lifestyle, habits, and routine in order to determine how many days of rest your body requires to function optimally. This will change day-to-day, so make sure to take the time to listen to your body and give it the rest it needs to recover, grow, and get better.
There is so much more to your health than just working out. Our food, lifestyle, physical activity, sleep, and hormones all effect our bodies and need to be monitored to ensure we aren’t just spinning our wheels.
“Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.”
~Jon 12:26 NLT