The reality of exercise is that you don’t make progress when you work out – you actually make progress when you recover from the workout. Whilst we all love the endorphin rush after a good workout and can’t wait for the next session, it’s important to note that our rest days are as significant, if not the most significant days of our exercise programme.
Exercise is a stimulus, recovery is the physical response
The simple explanation is that your workout is the stimulus and your off day or recovery day is bringing about the physical response. Exercise creates a physical stimulus for the body to get better at whatever challenge we present to it, be it running, cycling or a brisk walk.
This stimulus occurs when there is blood flow which is what happens when we exert ourselves. The circulation of blood brings nutrients to the tissues, and nutrients provide the material to facilitate the improvement. The circulation is enhanced by movement and so the cycle continues.
However, one cannot continually stimulate the circulation without giving the body a chance to recover, build muscle and become stronger.
What is a rest day and why do we need it?
Whilst some people may interpret a rest day as a day on the couch, one should still move – but without the challenge of an intense workout. Each day of the week should contain decent amounts of moderate movement, interspersed with days of challenging workouts – as with most things, a balance needs to be achieved.
Tobias Basson, General Manager at Concept Studio, a simulated high altitude cycling studio at The Point Mall, suggests a focus on “nutrition, mobility, meditation and relaxation techniques to assist the body in recovering post-exercise and to promote optimal performance during the next training session.
He reiterated that there are many recovery day options such as stretching, massage, contrast baths, neuromuscular electrical stimulation, compression garments, yoga, meditation, nutrition, hydration and of course, enough sleep.
How much recovery is enough?
Although this depends on each individual’s physical ability, sleep and dietary habits, and lifestyle activity, it’s basically when the soreness is gone from the muscle.
After a workout session one should feel the muscles have worked but the pain should not be debilitating. If the muscles are extremely sore and take five or more days to recover, your workouts are too strenuous. This is why it is important to train just above, but not too far above, one’s current abilities.
A rule of thumb is that a challenging workout should require only one to two recovery days.
The Point Mall offers a complete range of health and wellness facilities:
Concept Studio – an indoor altitude training gym for athletes at all fitness levels.
BUC – offering specialized equipment for losing weight, building muscle, increasing stamina or simply to keep fit.