Although it can be pretty difficult to get a workout routine started, it can be just as challenging to stop once you pick up momentum. Frustratingly, though, making sure that your body has time to fully recover between workouts is just as important, if not more important, than the workout itself.
The fact is that those bicep curls is wasn’t going to get you big arms, that’s just the stimulus. It’s the reaction to those curls that builds the muscle, and that only happens during recovery. But you have to give your body a chance to do its job and repair the damage you did while working out. That’s what makes you stronger.
And the same principle is true of cardiovascular training. Your heart is a muscle and it needs to recover, just like any other muscle.
So what’s the difference between rest and recovery? What counts as quality rest? How can you make sure that your body is getting enough time between workouts?
Drawing the Line
Simply put, rest is just one aspect of recovery. The actual process of recovery is, in reality, pretty active and involves making sure your muscles are rebuilt to prepare for the next challenge while delivering the needed nutrients.
Rest is specifically any non-training day that gives your tired muscles the opportunity to recuperate. That means that you could be active in some other way, as long as it isn’t training. This may come as a shock to many people who view rest as sleep or just general inactivity.
In fact rest can be really active.
Not Just Laying Around
If, for example, you’ve just spent your workout targeting your arms, your rest day could involve an easy game of Frisbee. A light walk or easy bike ride could also be acceptable ways to spend your rest days.
While it might not seem very fair that you have to spend your rest days being active, it’ll help you in the long run. As mentioned, an extremely vital part of recovery is making sure your muscles are properly fed. Your blood has to being moving to deliver those nutrients where they need to go. So, slightly elevating your pulse will help your muscles get fueled even more efficiently.
When and For How Long
Rest when you need to; it’s that simple. If you’re having muscle soreness or just feeling generally exhausted take the hint and take some time off. Give your body time to completely recover and don’t get back to your regular routine until the muscle in question is no long sore.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can’t workout at all. Just favor the sore muscle. For example, if you worked your chest on Monday and are dealing with soreness, you can work your biceps, shoulders or legs in the meantime.
While many workouts get you to push yourself so hard that your muscles are sore for five day to a full week, some experts say that this type of workout is just too challenging. Celebrity trainer Jonathan Ross, writing for the American Council on Exercise, advises that any soreness should only last about one or two days.