As a society we’re always trying to see when we’re going to fit everything in the 24hrs of the day and this applies to training too – when am I going to go to the gym, when am I going to go for a run or to that class? If we then do manage to go we try and fit an hour’s session in 45mins because we’re so tight for time; question is, is this really beneficial? More often than not we neglect the fact that we need to rest in between sets of exercises while training and recovery in between sessions.
When we talk about rest, we mean the amount of time you take in between sets of exercises, be it if you’re doing an exercises on its own, a superset in which you do two exercises after each other or a set of exercises or circuit. The time you need to rest for will depend on the goals you’re trying to achieve and the phase you’re working on. If you’re working on a strength block you’re going to have to take 3-5mins rest in between sets to be able to lift heavy weights (>80% 1RM) and let the central nervous recover. On the contrary, if your goals are to get lean and burn body fat, it’s good to work at very high intensities to elevate your heart rate and have a reduced rest time to be able to recover but keep your heart rate high at the same time.
Recovery in between sessions is then crucial to be able to give your body time to adapt to the training you’re doing. The majority of us will only train once a day at the most, typically 4-5 times a week for health and body composition reasons. In the majority of these cases we need to make sure that if we are feeling under the weather or if we had to stay longer in the office or go in early the next day, we either take a day off or even better try and move the session that we would be missing to another day. On the other hand, if you’re an athlete, or training for a sporting event, you can train twice a day on some of the days. If you are doing this make sure that you are training different energy sessions on the same day and that you are doing this with the guidance of a coach or professional as this will prevent you from picking up injuries along the way as well as illnesses.
Other strategies that will help in recovering better between session include good nutrition and enough sleep. Food and hydration are key when training irrelevant on your goals; make sure you drink plenty of water during the day not just when training and that you’re eating good nutritious food with adequate amounts of protein and carbohydrates; and supplement where necessary. Moreover, try and get enough sleep at night. Apart from that, vary the intensities of your sessions, use active recovery and take at least one day of complete rest. Going to a sports therapist once every few weeks is also beneficial.