Rest and recovery may sound like they could throw a spanner in your fitness plans, but both are vitally important, albeit slightly different.
Those who are passionate about exercise and/or physical fitness tend to be very committed to their program and may have a tendency to exercise five to six days a week. With many athletes adopting the “no pain, no gain” mantra, rest and recovery are often thrown out the window, even though they’re crucial to long-term success.
What is the difference between rest and recovery?
Recovery is defined as returning to a better state, while rest is defined as inactivity. In other words, having a rest day would mean that you plan on being inactive and not partaking in much physical activity for that day. Taking a recovery day means that you are consciously opting to do something that helps your body recover.
Why are they both important?
As with most things in life our bodies can’t keep going indefinitely without refuelling or taking time out to repair themselves. Rest and recovery are essential for the body to perform at its best – especially over the long run. When we use weights to train or do any form of resistance training, our muscles are essentially experiencing tiny microscopic tears. Taking a rest day allows those muscles to be put back together and begin to rebuild. Working out for 7 straight days without rest, therefore, means that your muscles are tearing constantly and are not being given the chance to repair and rebuild, increasing your chances of injury.
Typically, one to two rest days should be taken per week in order to allow your muscles time to heal and rebuild. If you are just starting out, resting just a little bit more could be beneficial as your body is not used to undergoing that much strain and needs time to ease into constantly working out.
Recovery days are just as important as rest days because sometimes our muscles need extra support in their efforts to rebuild. Taking a recovery day is doing something on purpose to help muscles rebuild and put themselves back together. Good recovery day activities include stretching or going for a walk. Additional recovery activities can be something more focused on muscle treatment, like yoga, a sports massage, or using a stim machine.
Although rest days should be prioritised, recovery days can be done on a rest day and should also be incorporated. Please share this blog with family and friends who can’t take a day off from training. They will thank you later!