If you go to the gym two to three times a week you could get better results than if you go six times a week.
You think I was crazy, wouldn’t you? More is always better right?
Think again. In the gym environment, this isn’t always the case.
You need to think about the effects of your training – both good and bad.
Your body is the best barometer for your training readiness. Unfortunately, in this hectic modern world, we have dulled most of our sensory feedback in the interests of our never-ending quest for MORE.
Immediately after training, we are in a depleted state. We are usually in oxygen debt, definitely out of muscle glycogen and our nervous system is usually mildly impaired. All of these effects are really good for you post-workout, as these, along with hormones stimulated during the workout, are what drives adaptation.
But then we get back into the gym the next day and do a similar workout in the same gears (link to zone training blog). By doing that, our system never gets a chance to really recover.
After a few weeks of this regime for maybe six days, a week and we start to wonder why we aren’t looking like a model and performing like a professional athlete? We think we must not be training hard enough, so we do even more workouts at the same intensity and the body starts sending us messages: pain, fatigue, lethargy, boredom and decreased mood – and hang on, aren’t those things we want less of?
Naaaaah! Those feelings must just mean we need to train more! Right? So we keep going. Those training sessions keep continuing and before you know it we are at the stage where we dread our training. We keep doing it but we no longer enjoy it. We have hit physical, mental and emotional fatigue. Our senses are dulled, brain function is impaired, the mood is non-existent and we just drift through training and life without any real vigour and emotion.
Obviously, adrenal fatigue and general apathy are not the desired outcomes of anyone’s training program – but this is what a lot of people end up with. Lack of rest is one of the main reasons. Rest allows our body to recover and regenerate from each training session.
It’s true the short-term training results are necessary for stimulating adaptation. However – we need adequate rest to help us reap the rewards of those sessions and somehow this message has been lost along the way! The rest period depends on the gears we use during the sessions but it also depends on our nutrient intake, hydration status, sleep and emotional state.
Tips and tricks for good rest
Good rest does not include sitting at work for 8-12 hours after a session or sitting on the couch for two days until you next consider going to the gym. Good rest and recovery takes time.
- Sleep – this is the big one! 7-9 hours of good quality sleep. Make sure the room is nice and dark, there is circulation of fresh air and it’s between 18 and 23 degrees. You will also want to be in bed by 10 pm for optimal rest and recovery.
- Gear System – movement sessions in gears 1 and 2 is a great way to recover as they stimulate the circulatory system in a way that will flush your body out, bring oxygen into the recovering body parts and allow circulation of the anabolic hormones that your body released during your workout.
- Recovery and Reconditioning sessions – this is where you take yourself through some mobilizers, SMR (self myofascial release) and OFT (osteo-fascial technique) on the foam roller and/or use a vibration plate like a power plate to massage and flush your system. They can be done alone or you can use the skills of a personal trainer to help with these sessions.
- Allied health professionals – here you get to pick your favourite! Massage, Acupuncture, Osteopathy, Chiropractic, Naturopath. If you find these help you, use them. If you haven’t tried any of them, talk to your network or group of friends and ask them if they can recommend a good one.
- Hydration – before, during and after any session you want to be well hydrated. Post-workout, continue to move slowly and drink water while doing so. This will help get the water into your tissues and restore any fluid that’s been lost.
Program rest days into your week every week. Sleep and hydration you want to do every day! On your next programmed rest day try one of the other tips to help your body recover and enjoy your new results! If you forget everything else, remember something my good friend and PTA Global Training and Education Coordinator Hayley Hollander once told me: Work + Rest = Success!
Gareth is a Director and movement coach with OD on Movement and PTA Global Faculty Member who uses education, empowerment and enjoyment to achieve results with any kind client. With a BSc in Anatomy and Structural Biology from Otago, he has a different perspective on Science and its application for clients results. His passions are for helping people regain independence, purpose and fun in their everyday life and enhancing the standards of the service in the health and fitness industry