Many people you speak to who exercise on a regular basis will wax lyrical about rest days and how important they are. Those who are relatively new to exercise and perhaps weightlifting would likely feel that they can go on forever and those who have regular rest days are simply wimps. As they progress with their training programme they will very quickly realise that rest days are extremely important – perhaps the most important element of training programmes?
What happens during rest?
When you exercise you literally break down the muscles of your body and place extreme stress on your system. It is only when you are resting that these muscles can rebuild themselves bigger and stronger which leads to muscle mass and improved strength. Growth hormones are at their highest during sleep, i.e. when you are resting, which is something that many people fail to realise. Some of those fairly new to the gym might also feel as though there have “earned themselves a treat” after exercise but this is the time that you should stick to your diet and supplements.
It is also worth noting that when you are exercising your cardiovascular system will be challenged. This then prompts the body to automatically increase the size of your capillaries and pump more blood through your heart and around your body. This increased blood flow will take oxygen and nutrition right around your body and lead to a more efficient heart (healthier heart). This is how many weightlifters build up stamina and the ability to push their training regimes to the limit.
Dangers of overtraining
There are two main types of overtraining which are localised and systematic which basically means you are overtraining a particular group of muscles or you are overtraining in general. Either way it will have a detrimental impact upon your physical health because your body is not given enough time to recover and your muscles not enough time to rebuild. You will reach a plateau, the shape and definition of your body will not improve and to a certain extent you will be wasting your time.
If you are pushing your body too hard this can create weaknesses which then increase the risk of injury. Less strength, less endurance and more susceptibility to injury are just three of the characteristics of overtraining. Do you recognise any of these?
Training programmes are vital
Those who are new to the gym and training programs could be forgiven for being over enthusiastic and showing over exuberance in the early days. Very often newcomers think they can do everything, can go all day and then come back tomorrow to finish it off. At some point this over exuberance will catch up with them and they were likely do themselves more harm than good in the short term.
If you are looking at regular exercise, weightlifting, general exercise, you should put in place a structured training programme which will allow you to focus on certain muscle groups on particular days and leave enough rest time in between. As we touched on above, rest time is as important as exercise time because quite literally it allows your body to rebuild bigger and better and ready for the next challenge. Overtraining is something which everybody will experience at some point in their gym career but those who learn from their mistakes will benefit most in the long term.