180 Nutrition: There’s still a certain stigma attached to a healthy exercise regime that your training should be constant. That if you’re not in the gym lifting weights three times a day that you’re just not doing it right.
It’s important to move your body every day but did you know that your rest days outside of the gym have just as much impact on your progress, if not, more so?
Now while your training should be consistent, here are three reasons that your muscles are also built OUTSIDE of the gym as part of an ongoing weight training program.
You burn out
Your body has a limited amount of energy which it can use for exercise. This energy fluctuates in line with your nutritional intake, stamina and fitness levels but it does have a breaking point. Once you reach that peak if you continue to train you will put yourself at risk of injury which will stop you from reaching your goals.
You’ll also be unable to perform at your peak which makes those training sessions fruitless.
Your muscles need to repair
When you lift weight your muscles tear. It is the process of rebuilding those tears which contribute to them growing and becoming stronger. The muscle tissue repairs with adequate rest, nutrition and sleep so if you avoid those three core elements, they won’t repair, strengthen and grow as quickly as they could.
Muscles then become weak which will hinder rather than help you reach your training goals.
Your nervous system needs a break too
While you might think that you can train legs one day, chest the next and give each muscle group time to repair that way, it’s not quite that simple because the nervous system which provides the energy for that training also needs time to refuel itself.
If you don’t give your nervous system the rest it needs, it will become exhausted. This will leave you with less energy to perform at your best which will have a detrimental effect on your training goals.
While everyone’s different depending on their objectives, I can loosely recommend four to five weight sessions a week as part of a muscle building program, but before you settle yourself in for a Netflix binge, that doesn’t mean those other two days are for sitting!!
We promote active rest which means that you still move your body every day, but without the pressure that heavy lifting puts on it.
Here are some active rest ideas for those days out of the gym:
Swimming is low impact on your joints but still gently targets all your main muscle groups and helps your blood flow in the process. If your exercise goal is fat-loss, 30 minutes of moderate breaststroke will burn approximately 290 calories.
A thirty-minute walk will increase blood flow which will help your muscles repair faster. Not only that, but it will also improve your mood, improve your energy levels and burn approximately 80 calories.
Or if you want to get technical then self-myofascial release is beneficial as part of a weight training program! It’s not necessarily as relaxing as it sounds and foam rolling can actually be quite painful! Foam rolling breaks up knots in muscles and promotes blood flow to those overworked areas. It helps the muscles repair faster which aids growth, and is a vital part of the recovery process.
Give your body a good all over stretch to start your rest day. This will improve blood flow to those problem areas and increase your overall mood and clarity.
Yoga has many mental and physical benefits when practised every day. It has the potential to target every area of the body which can improve your mobility to aid your weight training results.
As far as active recovery goes, it’s important to move only within the confines of your fitness level on your rest days. If you exert yourself too much, the activity will put pressure on your body and nervous system which will become counter-productive. Use your rest wisely, but make sure you use it!