Why REST should be an important part of your workout plan.
When we think about transforming our bodies into a beautiful, sculpted work of art, we tend to focus on two things: workout and meal planning. And while both of these are indeed important and necessary, we often forget one of the most important ingredients: REST!
Yet REST is crucial for optimum results and should be treated with equal care and respect.
When I think of rest in relationship to my workouts I think of it in three ways:
- REST in between sets
- Taking a REST Day from my workout routine
- RESTful sleep at night.
Let’s take a closer look at each one of these to better understand the critical role each one plays in your overall transformation.
REST in between sets
If you’ve been enjoying the workouts I’ve posted in previous Fitness Friday posts, you’ll know that rest is an integral part of BURST, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and Tabata workouts. The idea behind these types of workouts is that you engage in one activity at the highest intensity you can for a specific period of time — usually anywhere from 20 seconds to 1 minute, then rest for a set period of time before either repeating the activity or moving on to the next one. In the same way, if you are working through a circuit or with free weights, you’ll do a set, then take a break and rest before starting the next set or moving on to the next station on your circuit.
These consistent breaks in your workout allow you to workout at a higher intensity and for longer sets than if you did not take those breaks.
One of the most important reasons for building rest days into your workout routine is to avoid over training — working your muscles to a point of diminishing return. “The body repairs and strengthens itself in the time between workouts, and continuous training can actually weaken the strongest athletes.” (Sportsmedicine.com) Sometimes we are so determined to see results fast that we feel we must train intensely and daily because, God forbid we might take a break and all the hard work we’ve put in suddenly goes out the window. There is also the fear that if we take one day off it will be a lot harder to get back to our exercise and before too long we’ll be resting most of the week and exercising sporadically. That mindset is hurtful in more ways than one. For one, overtraining robs us of the ability to fully replenish our energy stores, and simultaneously interferes with our cell and tissue damage repair. And while the physical strain is easy to understand, overtraining may also result in psychological stress.. Most moms I know struggle to make the time each day for exercise but guilt over taking a day off is equally harmful. I typically work out 5 days a week. I walk for 20 minutes every day… my little dog won’t have any other way but when it comes to my structured and intense workout, I train Monday, Tuesday, REST on Wednesday, then back at it Thursday, Friday and Saturday and take another day off on Sunday.
I always tell my clients that when they exercise they are putting in a request for transformation but that the actual transformation happens at night, when they are sleeping peacefully. Think of it this way, when you go off into the land of dreams, an army of tiny little beings gets busy repairing all your damaged cells, strengthening muscles, keeping tendons and ligaments nice a supple and getting rid of all the toxic waste that is the result of muscle break down. Remember when you exercise you are in fact causing tiny little tears in all the muscles you are working. During the night, when repair takes place, your muscles become stronger. If you shortchange your sleep you are preventing the repair work to be completed. You wouldn’t think about building a house on a cracked and unstable foundation so why train on too little sleep? When muscles don’t have a chance to be repaired they become weaker instead of stronger and that is when serious injury becomes a real danger.
Do you have a REST plan for your workout? Which aspect of REST is the hardest for you?
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