When I started training as a teenager I thought it was all about ‘no pain, no gain’! The importance of recovery did not even register with me. For Christmas 1986 I received a set of dumbbells which set me up for a lifetime of strength training. Mum insisted on reading the instructions before I could start lifting the weights. I knew this stuff, except for the one following principle – ‘muscles are growing when you take your rest days’. This was my first introduction to the principle of rest and recovery. It is a principle that has stuck in my mind throughout my training life. The importance of rest and recovery within a training session and between different training sessions cannot be stressed enough. A good workout will always be the stimulus for and increase in fitness, but resting is ‘when the magic happens’.
Recovery during rest periods to get the best from a session
Rest periods within sessions allow waste to be cleared from the working muscles and energy stores to be replaced. Recovery after a set will increase performance during the next set within strength training and interval conditioning sessions. The length of the rest period is determined by the intensity of the training that you are doing. Therefore, between set rest periods can vary from 15 seconds through to 8 minutes! As a general rule, the harder your exercising on each rep then the longer your rest periods should be. For example, sprint training athletes take plenty of rest between efforts to maintain speed on each and every rep. Our personal training clients in Fulham are encouraged to take more rest between sets to keep the intensity high. Conversely, this mornings client was working upon their strength endurance so we cut the rest periods to 30 seconds.
Taking a break between training sessions
The amount of time needed between separate sessions will vary from as little as 12 hours through to 3 days! Strength athletes who lift very heavy loads may need at least 72 recovery before they hit the weights again! Be guided by your body, and return to training when the soreness has alleviated and your energy levels are back to normal. Ensuring that you get enough sleep and proper nutrition during rest days is also key during this time. Remember, the training was just a stimulus, the body actually makes its adaptations when you’re resting – meaning you hit the next session in better shape than the last one!
Guiding people of how to structure their rest and recovery is just one aspect of our work as personal trainers in Fulham. Quite often, clients know the deal when it comes to working out effectively, but need real guidance on how to make the most of this training by getting their recovery strategies right. If you’d like a free consultation to discuss how we can improve your health and fitness then please do get in touch with us via the contact form.