Why is recovery so important?

I believe we all know that rest and recovery is so important in the process of reaching certain fitness goals

Yet so many of us still over train and feel guilty for taking a day off! Do you know when your body gets stronger and repairs torn muscles (i.e. grows)? When we rest! And obviously when we sleep too. The time between workouts is what builds the strongest athletes. Let’s help answer the age old question, is recovery important? Absolutely, yes it is!

Whether you are training for a serious race or just for general fitness – Your rest period is the time in which your body can repair, replenish stores, strengthen and build up your muscles and other tissues. Rest isn’t just physically necessary but also psychologically. Imagine going nonstop for weeks. Not only will your body struggle but you will also mentally start to check out of your workouts and lose serious interest and motivation. On the extreme end of this, you can end up over training and sending your body into a stress response that takes a while to get out of.

We get two kinds of recovery – short term and long term.

The short term is what happens directly after exercise. This is your cool down period and the time in which you replenish energy stores with food and drink. Long term recovery is forward looking and includes your training plan for the year. Do you take deload weeks, or weeks off completely? These are things to look into when you push your body far most days of the week. How intensely you train will matter for how important recovery times will be.

We then also need to look at the different systems that need time to recover.

These include but are not limited to, structural, hormonal and neurological. Your muscles recover quickly because of your blood flow to these areas, especially as your body adapts to exercise. Your ligaments and bones are different, however. They don’t receive this direct flush of blood flow and can endure injuries from over training quite easily.

Hormonally, well we underestimate how hormonally demanding some forms of intense exercise can be. Yes, cortisol release and some amount of stress is necessary but keep pushing this level of inflammation and you could trigger all sorts of issues for yourself.

Lastly looking at the neurological aspect, I think life needs to be lived! We should not be saying no to events as this can get lonely and tiresome. Find your perfect balance (yes there is no perfect, but there is some balance)

How to recover:

-Focus on sleep
-Mobility work like yoga, Foam rolling and walking
-Book in with sports massagers
-Heat, ice and compress
-Eat wholesome, unprocessed foods! And enough

General rule of thumb:

Allow 24-48 hours between workouts that work the same muscle groups. Same goes for HIIT (high intensity interval training). Less intense cardio sessions don’t need long periods of rest between. But something like a spin class
followed by leg day the next day can be overkill.

Don’t overdo it, listen to your body and don’t train if you have profound soreness.

I hope this helps lovelies


Isilda Da Costa is a personal trainer and women’s fitness specialist who, if she isn’t at the gym training, is busy researching the most up to date information for growing those muscles. She has combined her love of everything healthy by being a health coach in her own health shop in Swaziland. Follow along on @izzy.healthandfitness

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