The Importance of Workout Recovery

The Importance of Workout Recovery
Photo by WI Dept of Natural Resources

Your body and your mind both need time to recover from workouts. If you spend too many hours at the gym you can actually slow your progress toward both weight loss and muscle building goals. Resting and letting your body recover is crucial to conditioning and building strength. It is only during times of recovery that your body builds new, stronger muscle mass.

Injury Prevention

Another reason to include rest and recovery periods is prevent injuries. Having an injury that keeps you out of the gym is not just painful, but it will keep you out of the gym and stall your progress. Overuse or over-training injuries are most common with gym goers.  When you push yourself too hard for too long, you can almost be guaranteed that you will experience an injury. Overtraining can also be mentally taxing. You may find yourself feeling bored, unmotivated, and lacking in progress.

Recover Every Day.  To make sure you recover from workouts, get enough sleep every night. Drink plenty of fluids. Being dehydrated can make sore and tired muscles feel even worse. Keep up with a complete nutrition plan that includes enough protein to help your muscles rebuild.

Deload Weeks

So how do you include rest and recovery in your workout regime without losing progress toward your fitness goals? Plan to have regular deload weeks. These are weeks during which you still go to the gym, but you do training sessions that are less intense than normal. Stretching, working on your core, or participating in yoga or other body movement classes are a great idea for a deload week. Make these sessions shorter, or slower pace than normal and never push yourself to your limits. Plan to have a deload week in your routine every four to six weeks. This critical week will help your body recover from your regular workout regimen.

Include Rest Weeks

Take a break.  You should also have one to two weeks a year during which stay out of the gym entirely. This doesn’t mean you have to avoid any kind of physical activity. During a rest week you should focus on doing things that are fun and that take you out of the gym. Go for a hike. Go to the beach. Play a recreational game with friends. The rest week is for both your body and your mind. Spending time in the gym every single day of the year can be draining both physically and mentally. A week off will leave you feeling refreshed, energized, and more excited about getting back to your workout routine.

Recovery is one of the most important aspects of getting and staying fit. It may seem counter-intuitive at first, but give yourself the chance to rest, recover, and rebuild so that you can get back to the gym and keep going back for a long time.

Josha Krueger is a NSCA-CSCS certified personal trainer, an AFPA Sports Nutrition Consultant, and owner of Kru Strength + Fitness.

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