You hit the gym everyday, 7 days a week, you give 110% while you’re there, you lift heavy and you sprint hard… but you’re not seeing the results you want outside of the gym. Why could this be? It’s possible that you’re not letting yourself recover enough. Recovery is not only important for your muscles and body, but also for your brain and mental health.
Working out everyday may seem like the best option to get the most progress, but your muscles and body need rest! Rest days are extremely important to keep your body running well. Just like your car needs an oil change to run smoothly, your body needs to rest to run smoothly as well.
First off, rest days help prevent “overuse injuries, such as stress fractures, muscle strains, and joint pain”. They allow your muscles and body to recover in-between gym sessions.
Not only do rest days help prevent injuries, which could cause you to stay out of the gym longer than expected and lead to less progress, skipping rest days can also lead to overtraining which causes harmful side effects such as “decreased performance, fatigue, altered hormonal states, poor sleeping patterns, reproductive disorders, decreased immunity, loss of appetite, and mood swings”.
Much of your actual progress actually takes place during your rest days. During rest days, because rest days allow the “body to replenish energy stores and repair damaged tissue” allowing changes to take place.
If you have trouble taking a full rest day, try taking an active rest day instead and going for a walk to keep your body moving, but avoiding anything too strenuous.
Not only do overall rest days help the body recover, but stretching and foam rolling before and after workouts can help too.
Stretching is important to improve overall flexibility, which can lead to a better range of motion in the gym, which overall leads to less injuries. In fact, “lack of flexibility can cause movement to become slower and less fluid, making an individual more susceptible to muscle strains or other soft tissue injuries.”
Stretching can also help fix poor posture, which also helps prevent injuries in the gym by lengthening tight muscles in places like the lower back, chest and shoulders. This will also help your body get into the correct position, maintain good form, and again, prevent injury.
Finally, stretching helps increase blood flow to the muscles which helps aid in muscle soreness and helps you recover and feel better faster.
Getting enough sleep is also important for not only your body to rest, but your mind. Many people do not experience enough sleep. In fact, the “National Commission on Sleep Disorders estimates that sleep deprivation costs $150 billion a year in higher stress and reduced workplace productivity.”
Not getting enough sleep can can hinder results in the gym and cause you to perform poorly, again, making you more susceptible to injuries. Lack of sleep can also increase your “ratings or perceived exertion” or how hard you think activities are, making moves in the gym more difficult than usual. Sleep in general is important for your workouts because during sleep and REM, your body replenishes the energy it used up that day. If you get enough sleep, your body restores its energy more and allows you to hit the gym harder the next day, resulting in even more progress such as faster runs or heavier lifts. Lack of sleep can also increase your levels of cortisol or stress, which can create a halt in the production of growth hormone and protein synthesis.
Not only does getting enough sleep recharge your body and allow you to partake in your daily activities, but sleep is also great for your brain and nervous system. It is shown that “more than 60 million Americans, or approximately one in three adults, experience inadequate sleep that can interfere with daily activities.” Getting enough sleep helps keep your memory sharp and alert for the days to come.
Remember next time you’re giving your all in the gym… make sure to take time to rest! It’s important for your body, muscles, brain and progress!
NFPT CEC. “Why Sleep and Recovery Is So Important.” National Federation of Professional Trainers, 29 Oct. 2017, www.nfpt.com/blog/why-sleep-and-recovery-is-important.
Quinn, Elizabeth, and Richard N. Fogoros. “Why Athletes Need Rest and Recovery After Exercise.” Verywell Fit, Verywellfit, 16 Apr. 2018, www.verywellfit.com/the-benefits-of-rest-and-recovery-after-exercise-3120575.
Robson, David. “The Importance Of Sleep!” Bodybuilding.com, Bodybuilding.com, 26 Mar. 2018, www.bodybuilding.com/fun/drobson5.htm.
Rosenbrock, Katie. “Why Rest Days Are Just as Important as Working Out.” The Active Times, 17 July 2015, www.theactivetimes.com/why-rest-days-are-just-important-working-out.
Smith, Brittany. “9 Things Every Athlete Needs to Know about Sleep and Recovery.” Men’s Journal, Men’s Journal, 21 May 2018, www.mensjournal.com/health-fitness/9-things-every-athlete-
“The Importance of Stretching To Boost Muscle Recovery and Flexibility.” GymGuider.com, 6 Mar. 2018, www.gymguider.com/the-importance-of-stretching-to-boost-muscle-recovery-and-flexibility/.editmore horizontal)