Rest and Recovery – Are You Getting Enough?

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This was me about 5 years ago…..

 I was pretty much a gym addict; you’d find me in the gym EVERY day. I wasn’t a trainer back then so really didn’t know what I was doing – all I knew was I LOVED doing it; I mean I really LOVED training! If for any reason I couldn’t train I’d get get really pissed off, miserable and have withdrawal symptoms! Yeah I know, before you say it it’s pretty sad right?! BUT I’m sure I’m not the only one here! I mean I knew everyone in the gym and everyone knew me, in fact I made a lot of friends there too, some who’ve since gone on to become really good friends.

Now going back to the training – like I said, at the time I didn’t REALLY know what I was doing, I mean the workouts I used to do all came from Men’s Fitness or Muscle and Fitness, as did most of my dietary advice. Anyway, I’d spend countless hours in the gym day after day hitting the weights as well as hitting a boat load of classes too, just so I had an excuse to train! The problem was I never really saw any good results, never mind GREAT results. I mean I’m pretty lean already and I could pretty much eat what I wanted anyway.

But the results I REALLY wanted just weren’t happening! So guess what? I’d train MORE, for LONGER and HARDER!

Thing is all this time training was starting to leave me feeling washed out and tired, I caught coughs and colds that I couldn’t shift for weeks, my training started to suffer and I started getting injuries. But yet I still continued to train, I had to get that body I always desired and this was the way to get it right?! WRONG!!


So what changed? Well I started doing this spinning class in the gym, well I wanted to train more yeah? and this instructor was the most respected trainer in the area so I just had to do it. It was a Friday 7.15am class – this was like the EARLIEST I’d ever trained. I mean who trains that early in the morning?! …Little did I know back then just how my that would change! Anyway this class was the busiest and most popular class in the gym, in fact when the gym opened the day before if you hadn’t rang to book your bike within 5 minutes of the gym opening you weren’t getting a bike! And I’m serious here; the class would ‘sell out’ in like 3 minutes! The instructor of this particular class was a guy called Paul Mort. Thinking back now, attending that spinning class has gone on to change my life – in more ways than one!!

Anyway, over a few weeks I got to know Paul and he started to notice and to tell me what I was doing WRONG in my training and what I needed to do to put things RIGHT! There were quite a few things but the one I’m going to talk about is REST and RECOVERY, something I just wasn’t getting or doing!

So why is rest and recovery so important? Well for starters your body repairs itself and builds muscle BETWEEN workouts rather than during them, so if you’re looking to grow bigger and stronger like I was then rest is essential to allow your muscles to repair themselves and allow themselves to grow back bigger. If on the other hand you’re on a fat loss program its your muscles that burn the fat so you need to keep them working optimally which once again means rest and recovery between workouts. You see, what I didn’t realise was I was OVERTRAINING and basically allowing my body to train beyond its ability to recover. As a result I didn’t see the results I wanted until my training changed and I actually did less, yes I trained LESS and rested MORE, ok so the training was intense but the rest was essential.

Some of the symptoms of overtraining include (and I had all of these by the way):

  • Feeling washed out
  • A decreased immune system (the coughs and colds I used to get)
  • Injuries
  • Moodiness and depression
  • Drops in performance
  • A compulsive need to train
  • Plus a lot more…..

So moving forward, I no longer train for longer than 45 – 60 minutes as after this time cortisol (a stress hormone) levels in your body starts to get really high as your body gets “stressed” by the intense exercise you’re putting it under. Now cortisol also has a catabolic affect too, which basically means it’ll “undo” all of the good work you’ve done during your training session if you continue to train.

I also include in rest days into my programs, in fact the programs I do myself I actually have written by someone else – more about this and why another time. As without rest and recovery your training program could actually take a U turn and take you backwards.

Sleep is also REALLY important to recovery, but again more on that later too!!

So what am I trying to say here? Well no matter what your goal is, whether it’s to build size and strength or whether its fat loss, REST and RECOVERY are ESSENTIAL to your program, so make sure you get plenty. If you’re one of my clients, that’s the reason we don’t train every day and sessions are programmed on days the way they are to allow you to receive adequate rest between sessions, to allow your body to recover and to keep your fat burning machine running at its optimal potential!

So make sure you get that rest and recovery!

Till next time,




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Marti Whitaker, EzineArticles Basic Author