How to make the most of your recovery periods.
Workouts can be stressful for your body, as is. However, total body training sessions, especially with more intense workouts on smith machines, can even be more tolling on your physique. That’s because when you’re performing them, you’re tearing down the majority of your muscles. This can be quite draining.
Our bodies have different systems that need to recover simultaneously. These include neurological, hormonal, and structural systems. Our structural systems includes all of our muscles, ligaments, tendons, and bones. Muscles recover fastest since they receive direct blood flow. On the other hand, our ligaments, tendons, and bones all receive indirect blood flow, and therefore take longer to recover on average—they can also be more susceptible to stresses from overtraining.
Although often overlooked, proper rest can greatly facilitate the healing process and ensure that your body recovers as efficiently as possible. Rest can also lead to being more productive and having more energy the following day. Here are a few techniques that will help you to rest more effectively.
Sleep Really Does Matter
Our sleeping periods are our most important times to recover. Adequate levels of sleep can help to promote not only muscular recovery, but also improvements in your mental health and hormonal balance. Simply put, your body needs regular intervals of downtime/sleep, which is optimally between seven to ten hours for most people who are engaged in a regular workout schedule. This is a general rule, however, as different people each have individual needs based on the intensity of their workouts, their lifestyle, and also their genetic makeup.
Also, hours slept before midnight have been proven to be more effective for rejuvenation, than those slept after. Sleeping while surrounded by more natural settings is optimal, with minimal to no artificial light. Waking up as the sun rises is also excellent for you mental and physical health.
Lastly, always keep in mind that both fresh air as well as cooler temperatures, help to improve your overall quality of sleep.
Schedule Down Periods & Recovery Workouts
Just as with the workouts themselves, you can also be proactive with your recovery periods. The recovery process needs to be planned out accordingly, and effectively executed. Whether you’re engaging in strength training or cardiovascular exercise, each training session breaks your body down. In other words, each time that you exercise, you deplete your body’s energy batteries and tear down your muscle fibers.
In this regard, too much training without adequate recovery periods can lead to what is known as overtraining. If you overtrain and overstrain your body, you can cross over into an exhausted state, which is filled with a whole array of hormonal, chemical, and psychological issues. When you are constantly causing stress to an already fatigued body, it compounds the problem since it isn’t able to properly adapt, which can result in tiredness and irritability, body inflammation, and seriously underwhelming workouts. More importantly, wearing your body our too frequently can also lead to injuries.
Therefore, it’s good to schedule a recovery week every four to five weeks. During this one week period, only lift a maximum of 75% of your normal lifting capacity. Yes, that means no maxing out! Also, slice the usual number of sets you do in half. If you’re engaging in cardio, half your maximum time, and reduce your usual intensity by 25%. In this way, you’ll feel much more energized, and have better mental focus and acuity after each workout session.
Ensure Adequate Recovery Time between Workouts
You know those workouts where after you get a good workout in, at some point you begin to feel a little achy in your muscles? Well, that is known as Delayed onset muscle soreness, AKA DOMS. What you’re feeling is your muscle fibers breaking down since you’ve encumbered them with either weight bearing exercises with a Smith machine, or stressful cardiovascular training.
Typically, DOMS can cause not only muscle soreness and tenderness, but also a reduced range of motion for your joints, muscle inflexibility, reduced force production, and overall stiffness. If you ignore your body’s warning signals—that it’s time to engage in a little R&R, and if you return to the gym (or home gym) too soon, you can greatly increase your risk for injuries, which in turn can set you back in your training regimen, big-time.
To alleviate the chances of potentially injuring yourself, allow your body one to three days of rest between workout sessions, for each group of muscles. In other words, if you train your biceps one day, you don’t want to go back to training your biceps the very next day. Spend your recuperation time cooking yourself some healthy meals, enjoying nature, meditating, and other fun and mindful activities.
Rest, Rest, and More Rest
Remember, it’s great to have that fervent motivation and be steadily progressing towards your fitness goals, but the key word here is: Progress. Whether you are getting into a workout schedule and are just beginning to notice results, or you’re a trained athlete who is working towards a peak, overtraining can greatly set you back in your training regimen.
So ensure that you view rest and recuperation periods as part of the progression, and part of the natural evolutionary process of building the best version of you possible. When you’re ready to take your workouts to the next level, check out our fine selection of Marcy Pro Smith Cages.