By: Nick Lape
When I say the phrase, ‘too much of a good thing,’ what usually comes to mind? Most of us may think about that chocolate bar, or other sinful pleasure, that was just too good to put down so we just kept going with whatever it was only to suffer the consequences of these actions. Would you believe me if I told you the same goes for exercise? Would you believe that you can actually push your body past the point of gaining any physical or mental benefit? So here are a series of questions to ask yourself:
- Why do I actually need a recovery period?
- How do I know when I need a recovery period?
- How often should I incorporate a recovery period?
Let’s start with the first question. The reason for a recovery period can be explained as easily as relating it to the body’s need for sleep every evening. After a certain amount of physical exertion even sleep can’t be enough sometimes. As we exercise we push our body’s systems to the limit, especially the musculoskeletal and the endocrine systems (i.e. muscle growth, muscle endurance, hormone release, etc). Every time we workout, we can start to break these systems down a bit in order to increase their functionality. Over time, we can begin to over use these systems just like anything else and it can start to be crucial to give them a rest.
Many times over, I hear people say that they just aren’t sure when enough is enough. So how do you know when you may need a recovery period? This is where paying attention to your body and knowing yourself comes into play. Have your strength gains begun to slowly plateau? Has your weight loss come to a stand still? Are you having little aches and pains that you never noticed before you started exercising? These are all things that many people overlook. A lot of times when these things start happening we think that all we need to do is work harder. Well how long are you going to be willing to work harder for nothing? When these things start happening it may be time to give your body a rest and slow things down for a bit. I’m not saying quit exercising. I’m simply saying that it may be time for low impact, less physically taxing and more mentally challenging exercise. Take time and make sure your body is moving right and getting the rest it needs and deserves for the beating you put on it week in and week out.
Here at CFR we like to recommend that our members take a week of recovery for every 8 to 10 weeks of rigorous training. When it comes to Large Group Training we have it built in every 8 weeks. Now, will everybody’s recovery periods need to be the exact same? No. Someone who has been physically active for years and years may not need recovery periods as close together as someone who is a novice to fitness.
This recovery period is a great time to truly focus on the things outside of your training where it really matters. I’m talking about nutrition, sleep and anything else that may affect your performance, and getting those in check while your body is resting. Having all of those things lined up before continuing your workout regimen can drastically change the outcome of your future workouts.
Recovery is a vital period to anyone that works out on a regular basis. It can be that one ‘thing’ that someone is looking for to break through a fitness barrier, especially for those who find that they have reached plateaus in their favorite exercises. This can entail running a certain distance, lifting a certain amount of weight and even trying to keep yourself from being in pain. Just like every person needs to sleep at night, so the body needs to rest when put through a rigorous training regimen. Don’t take it for granted.