Gym-goers commonly seek the fastest way to meet their fitness goals, whether that’s a physical or time-sensitive goal. The fact that most gym-goers come to realise is that building muscle or improving fitness is a patient process. To achieve most goals in life, putting in as much work as possible usually correlates with a quicker path to the finish line; this is not true of physical training. Resting periods are as important as the training itself.
What happens when our bodies are resting?
Even though it feels like you’re doing nothing, internally our bodies are working to rebuild in a variety of different ways.
Here are a few ways our bodies set about recovering:
- Restoration of muscle fibres - our muscle fibres are stretched and damaged whilst we exercise, as they heal in the resting period, they become stronger than they were before; this particular process helps our muscles to build in the physical sense.
- Your fluids are restored – the body sweats a lot when it’s put through a workout so it needs time to replenish, hydration is essential to the delivery of different nutrients in the body.
- Your glycogen stores build back up – the muscle recovery process produces insulin which helps to align the path of glucose to our muscle cells, this stores as glycogen which, in turn, will fuel your next workout.
Keeping yourself well fed is another element which is essential to recovery and rest; you can explore this in more detail in our foods for post-exercise recovery article. Sleep is also a huge part of the recovery process, dive into our article which explores the surprising benefits of sleep for more information.
The key timings in exercise are the immediate hours after exercise (otherwise referred to as ‘short-term recovery’) and the 2 – 3 days after your workout (also known as ‘long-term recovery’). To determine the length of your rest/recovery periods, here are a few variables to bear in mind:
What’s the current state of your fitness levels? If you’ve just started a regular workout routine, then chances are your body will take a longer time to recover than others who have been exercising regularly for years. As we age we tend to have a slower muscle recovery than when we were younger so you also need to consider this in your analysis. Try monitoring how long it takes for the aches and pains to shake off to get an idea.
If you engage in any high-intensity activity such as weight-training then a 72 hour rest period is advisable to newcomers, however if you’re engaging in an hour of medium-level cardiovascular exercise, you can afford to do this up to 2-3 times per week.
How long do you train for? Overtraining can be very dangerous and can lead to ailments such as chronic muscle/joint pain, fatigue and higher blood pressure. You need to listen to your body so it can inform you of when it needs rest.
Low-intensity exercise as recovery
Some studies have supported the notion that exercises such as swimming or taking a walk can help to relax your muscles.
There isn’t a singular answer to the amount of rest you should take after exercising but taking the above points into consideration will help you to inform your rest period. The main thing to take away is the value of taking rest and how it contributes to your overall fitness.
Remember, TREK Bars are a fantastic source of protein to aid your exercise routine, they’re small enough to squeeze into your backpack making it ideal to chomp down to aid your post-exercise recovery. The bars are stacked with 9-10g of plant based protein whilst TREK Protein Energy Chunks contain 12g of plant based protein!