Rest Days – Why They’re Important To Avoid Overtraining

rest days

Schedule rest days for best results.

There’s no magic pill when it comes to building up your muscles and getting the perfect body. You’ve got to put in the hours and put out some sweat to get results. Most dedicated bodybuilders know this, and understand that giving in to the temptation to lounge on the couch rather than hitting the gym can be the start of a slippery slope which leads to flab and wasted muscles. However, the opposite tendency can in fact be equally bad for your regime. Overtraining, exhausting your body, never giving it any time to replenish itself, and becoming obsessive about exercise can be just as bad for you, and degrade your body in a similarly appalling manner. The trick is to recognize that moderate amounts of rest are a vital part of your workout regime, and to incorporate them into your pump schedule. Here’s what can happen if you don’t…

Your Mental Health Will Suffer

rest days weight training benefitOf course, you already know that being fit is a state of mind as much as of body – without the right frame of mind, you will never be able to get yourself to stick to your training schedule, and all your hard-won fitness will quickly degrade. However, if you start overtraining, that healthy frame of mind can quickly deform into something much more worrying. Although experts are divided on whether or not the endorphin rush that comes from a workout is actually ‘addictive’ in the strict scientific sense of the term or not, the phenomenon known as ‘exercise addiction’ nonetheless blights lives and can require serious amounts of therapy to overcome. ‘Addicts’ become incredibly anxious when unable to exercise. Workouts become an all-consuming feature of their lives, bringing about an incredibly deleterious effect on their relationships, social lives, and careers. ‘Addicts’ also frequently suffer from depression and swiftly develop exceedingly poor body image. Eating disorders and stress-related insomnia frequently follow hard on the heels of an exercise addiction. As such, it is extremely important to avoid letting exercise take over your life.

Your Muscles Will Shrink

This is fairly basic biological science, but it’s worth repeating: muscle-growth is the result of repair-jobs that the body does on micro-tears in muscle fibers caused during exercise. During rest, the body gets to work on laying down new protein strips to heal existing tears, and adds a bit more in for good measure, to ensure that the injury won’t happen again. This is why protein shakes are so popular and effective. However, the body undertakes this repair and improval work while you’re at rest. If you don’t give your body enough rest time in which to repair, renew, and build up your muscles, you’re simply heaping injury on top of injury. Your muscles will be sore constantly, necessitating a lot of discomfort and expenditure on pain-relief techniques. What is perhaps more distressing, however, is the fact that your muscles will actually deplete during this time. This is because your body, exhausted and desperate to conserve vital glycogen resources, will burn muscle in preference to fat. The more catabolic exercise you do, the more inclined your body will be to cannibalize its own muscle. If you never give it the chance to replace that muscle, you’ll end up seeing actual inverse results from all the time you spend working out.

Your General Health Will Suffer

Overtraining and the subsequent exhaustion leads to your body pouring all of its resources into keeping you upright and moving, when it should be concentrating on other vital things like digestion, immune function, reproduction, hormone regulation, and so on. Almost all of your neurochemical and hormone levels will drop –with the exception of cortisol, which is released during muscle stress. Cortisol is known as the ‘stress hormone’, and has been associated with increased anger, anxiety, mood swings, and depression. Elevated cortisol levels also come with numerous health risks, like lowered immune function, weight gain, heightened blood pressure, and many more. All of which will be occurring anyway as a result of resource-exhaustion – the last thing you want is for cortisol to exacerbate the problem! If you’re a woman, the decrease in hormone levels can lead to your periods drying up, which may have a serious impact upon your reproductive health. Skeletal density can also decrease due to a drop in estrogen levels. All in all, it’s far better to begin to work rest periods into your workout, and start thinking of them as a vital part of your training schedule, rather than a lazy cop out!

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Posted in Exercise by Jason Kozma | No Comments Yet

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