It is very easy to get stuck into your workout routine, planning days on, exercise schedules and the intensity of the workouts you have in mind. Something that is equally important to your routine however is recovery and rest. Your body needs this time to heal and be ready to be pushed harder the next time you enter the gym.
Young weight lifters are renowned for pushing themselves too fast too soon and ending up injured and out of action before their time. It’s important to remember that strenuous workouts take their toll on your body and you need to give it time to recover. The length of time this takes is dependent on many factors.
Your Road to Recovery
Recovery is completely personal and that it depends on the individual activity and their individual strength levels. You need to be able to schedule your exercise programme to suit your body’s recovery times and below are the factors which will determine how much you actually need.
More Time for Bigger Muscles
Think about how your body feels when you carry out different exercises. Heavy squats are far more difficult than a bicep curl based workout and therefore though you may only fit a few squats into you work out they will take more out of you then a bicep curl or lateral raise. High-intensity squats will require a much longer recovery time too.
More Time for More Muscles
Very closely related to the size of the muscles you’re working out the number of muscles also plays a key role in your recovery time. Bigger muscle groups will take longer to recover because the larger the group the larger the amount of weight must be lifted to get the amount of intensity needed to cause a reaction. Lots more muscle will be attacked during your workout so lots more will need time to repair.
Type of Exercise Counts
The type of exercise in question will play a role in how much recovery is needed too. Exercises which include an eccentric component, such as squats or bench lifts, will require more recovery time than those where only concentric movements are necessary. Your muscles are being put through their paces more rigorously than with simple concentric moves.
The Age Factor
We hate to say it but age does play a key role in recovery times. Older athletes will naturally take longer to recover than younger ones. As you age almost everything will take older and this does include recovery time. Often just two days consecutive training is enough for a forty plus weight trainer to stay in their best condition and benefit fully from the rest time. There will come a time where alternate rest days are needed so embrace them.
Train Harder, Recover Longer
It is common sense really – the harder and more often you train the more recovery you’re going to need. If you’ve scheduled an especially hard week or so of training then expect to need some time off after. Overtraining, whether on purposes or by accident, will also leave you needing additional recovery time.
Factor in Psychological Stress
Your psychological mind set will also play a role on your recovery time. If you have any levels of stress or anxiety then this will affect the amount of energy you’re able to put into training. If you’re psychologically limited in your training then you may also find you need longer recovery periods.
Maximising your Recovery Time
Getting more recovery time is difficult – you probably have a hectic schedule as it is. The obvious answer is to get more sleep, if at all possible. Your body’s need for sleep should increase once you start training and you’ll soon see that your body responds better if you get that extra bit of sleep it craves. Training and working out literally tears and rips your muscles and they need to be rebuilt. The best time for this to happen is when you’re sleeping as your muscles are completely stationary and can be left to work their magic.
Another key way of ensuring your recovery time isn’t all encompassing is to ensure you’re eating properly. Adequate nutrition is required to give your muscles the food they need to rebuild during rest periods. If you try and cut back too far on food you’ll find yourself lethargic and unable to train.
Your progress in your training programme will be slowed if not stopped completely if you don’t dedicate some time to recovery. You need to schedule in specified rest days and periods where no exercise at all is allowed – your body will feel the benefits and it will mean when your sessions do come around you’ll have the energy to really blast it. You won’t get fitter and stronger working out unless you feel fit and strong once you’ve recovered from your workout.
I believe that marching soldiers rest by changing pace rather than stopping - but then most soldiers are not forty plus...
I find it much easier to keep pushing myself than to allow myself recovery time - resting is actually stressful! I get around this by alternating the kind of exercise I do and which muscle groups I focus on - so my legs might be getting a rest but I'm still working my upper body, etc.
You also have to remember that if even if you exercise regularly you might not feel you need the recovery time so much because you don't ache so much. I think it also depends on the exercise you do. If I do some really tough cardio then I definitely feel more tired later that day and sleep really well. We are designed to work hard, then rest, and eat loads of protein to build muscle.
You can alternate - one day work on one group of muscles, the next another, the next concentrate on cardio. That way you can still work out daily...
Good reminder to me that sitting around and sleeping is sometimes is good for me! My recovery focus is also on make sure you drink lots of water, and eat within one hour of exercising to help that recovery.
I've got friends who've done more damage than good by going all out and not giving themselves time to recover. I also make sure I have rest days, even on an intensive training programme. Rest is vital for your muscles to repair themselves.