(The below article was published in March edition of Men’s Fitness)
So you have got your new flashy gear, you have teed up your gym membership, you may have even seeked out some consul on nutrition and have a nice plan in place for that too, you have spoken to all your mates in the fitness industry or who have ever been in the industry, you have done your own research by trawling the net for hours on end to see what will deliver the body that you long for and you are set, ready for action.
During your planning stages you also considered your busy work schedule and of course your even busier social agenda and yep by the looks of your calender this all seems to piece together very nicely, and within the required timelines you are going to look more than just good, you are going to feel amazing too.
Stop, wait a minute isn’t there something missing? Check, re-check and check again. No every thing seems to be in place there doesn’t it? Well maybe not. Something is missing isn’t it…..what is it? REST and RECOVERY! But why so important, what does it mean for us, what does it do and how should we address it?
The dry stuff first…..not enough sleep can lead to changes in hormone levels such as an increase in the levels of the stress hormone cortisol, decreased activity of human growth hormone which aids us in tissue repair, a decrease in glycogen synthesis as well as decreased aerobic endurance!! In simple terms if we do not let the body recover then many internal processes that we need to occur to help us reach out external goals will not be able to take place optimally. These internal physical factors are also coupled with our emotional state that we enter into when we are deprived of rest, our mental attitude, where our head is at and our will to work harder or not at all.
Those things in isolation should be sufficient to stop and make you think about rest and recovery. Of course the list of negative effects backed up from various studies goes on and on if you want to get really scientific about things and there are no end of studies available to confirm this.
Lets take proactive steps here as prevention is often the best form of medicine, not getting ourselves into the situation should be our first port of call shouldn’t it? I want to share 5 simple points with you on rest and recovery that I can assure you will help in many ways:
- Hydrate: Lets not complicate this one. Drink water and plenty of it! Before, during, and after exercise you need to ensure you have plenty of water in your system. Sugary drinks do not count as tools for hydration sorry!
- Eat: Would you put diesel in a petrol car and expect a result? Nor would I, so make sure you get the right food in, this will also help in your performance as well as in your recovery
- Stretch: Before and after a workout for sure, but also if you have another time in the day too. Its a simple way to help your muscles recover faster.
- Sleep: When it comes to rest and recovery there is nothing quite like sleep. Training when you are tired benefits no one. Plan your sleep, track it and review! It may sound strange but the amount of solutions I have found in peoples sleep patterns is mind blowing.
- Don’t over train: Yes I know you are keen and want to get fit really quickly but too many sessions is going to send you backwards so be smart with your planning.
So when you are planning your life and your training, fire the words rest and recovery right up to the top of your priority list, with it you will achieve so much more and get so much more out of your training program and your life. Without it you may struggle to get out of the blocks, go into a physical and emotional meltdown and never achieve what you set out to!!