TAKE THAT REST
In my first blog, which was also my first, I wrote about something very personal. This week I figure let’s talk about training but let’s start with something fairly relaxing. REST. This was also the same topic I spoke about on my IGTV vlog last week. If you haven’t watch that, well, you should.
The tune of this blog will be somewhat similar to the vlog but probably in more detail. Let’s start with what is what. When it comes to exercising, be it a simple workout or you’re training for a chosen sport, it is a catabolic activity. This simply means you are actually breaking down muscles throughout the duration of the exercise. It doesn’t matter which metabolic pathway you choose to undertake, muscles will breakdown. Hence you get soreness or some form of muscle fatigue. It is what you do during your rest period that will create anabolic results. What may those be? As far as I’m concerned there are four. Nutrition, rehabilitation, sleep and supplementation. They are not in any particular order nor are they arranged in a matter of importance. They are all crucial to your anabolic success.
Before I go into detail about those four, I would like to stress there are two different categories of rest. One is rest between exercise days, and this is the one where you need to pay close attention to those four. The other is rest within your workout or training.
Let’s quickly talk about the first one, rest between exercise days. First and foremost, there is such a thing as overtraining. How do you know if you have overtrained? It’s either when you are just so tired you can’t be bothered to do anything but binge watch on Netflix or your mind just shuts down and refuse to imagine anything that’s heavier than a fork. If you haven’t experienced any of this then you have not overtrained. But please don’t confuse a state of overtraining with general malaise.
So how is the best way to rest between workouts? You may train everyday. Just don’t train the same body part everyday. This is why CrossFit is getting a lot of slack in the fitness space. It’s because they go balls out every single day on more or less the same body parts. Of course certain body parts cannot avoid participation in a particular movement but you can try to not make it the primary muscle every single time. A muscle must be allowed to rest in order to be stronger or grow.
You can also get away with training everyday if you vary the kind of workouts you do. For instance, you may do CrossFit today and spinning the next day. This way you are being very smart with your energy pathway. While one is resting, the other is working without you taking a day off totally. There are many other ways to mix things up as there are hundred different kinds of exercises out there. (I suddenly feel like I’m copywriting for GuavaPass)
The second kind of rest is the intra-workout rest. If you’re doing a HIIT class then unfortunately for you, you have very little rest. But that’s what you signed up for so suck it up. Otherwise you need to establish how long should your rest be in between your sets in order to be optimal on every set. Every discipline has a different duration but essentially somewhere between 45 to 90 seconds is a good ballpark figure to remember. It all depends on how you’re feeling that day as well. And if you’re wearing a heart rate monitor, it is highly recommended that you try to bring your heart rate to approximately 50% of your maximum heart rate. But please don’t sit around waiting for your heart rate to decrease or you may need to warm up again. Practice some form of relaxation breathing techniques to bring your heart rate down. Why do you think coaches call time out on their players during a match? It’s to calm them down more than to re-strategise. The players are so hyper and anxious that they’re forgetting the original game plan.
Now let’s get back to those four things. But first a little disclaimer. I am just going to touch the surface on all of these topics as they are all worthy of their own article. I will articulate on them in detail in due course.
Nutrition. Not withstanding what your goals are, whether it is fat loss or muscle mass gain, it is not so much of how much or little you eat around your workout that matters but more of the macros that you consume which determine the anabolism of it all. There are plenty of research on pre and post workout meals but in general it’s basically consume light pre and consume heavy post. Notice I use the word consume and not eat or drink as it is not essential to do one or the other. What’s important is the consumption. A good mix of protein and slow digesting carbs is advisable for pre-workout if it is going to be a long one. Save the fast digesting carbs for post-workout as that’s when you want to replenish your energy. And don’t worry about the whole anabolic window bullshit. There isn’t one. This is just the supplement companies way of trying to make you buy protein powders so that you get your protein in within the window. Just remember to consume something after your workout.
Rehabilitation. I chose this word because I feel it encompasses a lot of activities. You don’t need to be coming back from an injury to be undergoing rehab. Stretching, foam rolling, low intensity steady state cardio, breathing exercises, massage, contrast shower etc all fall under this category. Simply put don’t just finish your last set, grab your bag and leave. Probably to eat so as to not miss your window. Spend some time giving your muscles some TLC. Afterall you just smashed it to oblivion. Think of your next workout. Most of the time people miss their next workout because they’re still sore or worse, hurt. Preparation for your next workout begins at the end of your current workout.
Sleep. Wow! After breathing, this is the most underrated method of recovery in the whole wide world. People treat sleeping as something you just do. I’ll sleep when I’m tired. Or I’ll sleep when it gets late. Or you do get the odd numbskulls who goes, I’ll sleep when I’m dead. Well, you just slept last night and you’re still freaking alive. Anyhow, there isn’t a magic number on how long you should sleep. As much as there isn’t a magic number on how much water you should drink. For as long as you wake up fresh and remain mentally fresh then you know you’ve had enough sleep. Repeat that pattern consistently and watch your body transform.
Supplementation. Super interesting topic but I’ll keep it short. You can spend an obscene amount of money on supplements and still get nowhere. So why bother? Because it is human nature to find the shortest route possible to our destination. Let it be known there are two kinds of supplementation, health and performance. For health, it’s pointless to buy anything until you do a blood test to determine your deficiencies. Who made the GNC salesperson a doctor? Anyway, for performance, why not try busting your balls in the weight room properly first before swallowing any magic pills. Sometimes only you need is hard work.
So there you have it. Rest when you need to. When it comes to fitness, play the long game. Try to see yourself still exercising when you’re 90. That ought to teach you to conserve your body for as long as you can.
Till next time, persevere and stay determined.