Modern day societies are exercising more, yet obesity levels are on the rise. The reason why people aren't achieving results is their lifestyles aren't as balanced and their bodies are surviving not thriving.
Training all week and partying, working or being busy is the classic pattern of the modern day human, the “weekend warrior” who gives 110% in the gym class, bar and at home. Aggressive modern fitness trends are targeting the “work hard, play harder” mantra when in reality that should be “work hard, recover and be happier”.
Sleep, hydration, nutrition and stress are all huge factors that make or break a health and fitness regime and every fitness enthusiast needs to understand where they sit on the balancing scales. Nathan Williams, Manager and Personal Trainer at UFIT Orchard tells us how recovery work can be the best thing for our fitness.
Why rest and recover between training sessions?
The “no pain, no gain” slogan has been sold to the fitness masses for the last decade or two and its legacy is wearing as thin as its followers' tendons and cartilages!
Recent trends of training multiple times a day which were designed for full time athletes has been adopted by mainstream fitness enthusiasts as a go-to method to get “Fitter, Leaner, Stronger” when the real results will leave the majority of normal athletes “Fitter, Fatter and Exhausted”.
Muscles need rest to grow, and the central nervous system needs recovery to reset in order for the human body to function optimally.
How much rest do we need?
Everyone is different and I recommend trial and error with training frequencies and intensities.
Burning the fitness candle at both ends can lead lead to long term, chronic depletion of hormones like testosterone (think of this as jet fuel for the body) and raise levels of the stress hormone (cortisol) which can act like a brake on your fat loss goals and overall training progress.
How does rest and recovery enhance our training?
There are several easy methods to use and it really depends on what you need more, than what you like:
- if you do a lot of strength training you'll benefit from 1-2 hours of yoga or stretching a week
- if you run as a main form of exercise you may find massage and stretching will help better
- if you have fat-loss goals you'll need active recovery (or blood flow) sessions to keep the body moving and recover ‘actively’.
The majority of people now do not sleep well at all and this huge part of the training puzzle is not being looked at with the attention it demands. "Every minute of quality sleep enhances the quality your waking day”. If your sleep is poor then there is a big chance your daily performance will match - allowing your body and mind to burn out quickly.
am i overtraining and what should I do?
When all things are balanced (training, travel, sleep, rest, recovery, hydration and nutrition) it's actually pretty hard to “overtrain”.
The reality of modern day fitness trends and lifestyles is that the areas are far from balanced so the gateway to overtraining/overliving is way bigger than it should be.
Poor sleep into a morning run may make someone 'feel’ good when the endorphins kick in (endorphins are actually a mechanism to number the body into stopping activity - not give us a buzz to keep going) but this has only put a person deeper in the training hole.
When poor nutrition and under-eating are combined with multiple training sessions a day, the body will react to protect itself. There may be short term progress but the long term damage on metabolism and hormonal imbalance can take months/years to detect and the same time to fix.
Some warning signs are:
- Mood swings
- Chronic tiredness on waking
- Falling asleep in the daytime
- Unusual sugar cravings
- Disrupted sleep patterns
- Zero morning erections per week (MALES).
how do I fit in rest and recovery when i prefer to train?
If you feel like your current weekly routine is not getting you closer to your goals (fat loss, muscle gain, improved energy/mood) then I would suggest:
- Recovery sessions (yoga, stretching, swimming, massage) need to become part of the training cycle
- Time can be saved within sessions by slightly reducing the time you work and increasing recovery slightly.
- Implementing a de-load week every six weeks can be massively beneficial to the overall annual training load.
- A typical de-load week could be to reduce volume and/or intensity by up to 50% or even switch for the whole week to more outdoor fun activities to keep things fresh - the options are endless, with the fundamental goal of the week being a weekly reduction of stress to allow longer training cycles to not lose intensity.
How can I rest when i'm race training?
It's always better to have someone with race training expertise design a training program with recovery pre-planned in. The same rules would apply with recovery and rest for racing as they would with a normal training program - the program will only be as good as the recovery between sessions.
That would be for each individual and their coach to work out based on all the factors discussed above (nutrition, sleep, work schedules, travel, etc).
HOW TO REST AND RECOVER WITH UFIT
- Do yoga classes in the serenity of Sentosa or the Botanic Gardens
- Try our Pilates classes focussing on physical correctness at UFIT Clinic
- Join a UFIT Retreat to balance of fitness and rest amongst coconuts and palmtrees
- Visit the UFIT Clinic for a massage or physio session
- Stretch and roll between training sessions
- Get a massage at the UFIT Clinic
- Talk to your UFIT Personal Trainer about what is just right for you
- Chill with your training buddies over a coffee after your sessions!
About the author
Read Nathan's article on Sleeping Well right here.
Nathan Williams specialises in strength training, Kettlebells and corrective strategies and mobility work for everyday workers, ex-athletes and sports people looking to continue their physical training whilst staying pain-free for the rest of their lives.
He graduated from UWIC, Cardiff with a 2:1 in Sport development and management. Nathan's worked with elite RFU female rugby players and notably coached Danielle Waterman before she went on to be women’s Rugby World Cup top try scorer (2006) and has gone on to win over 60 international caps and become an Olympian with Team GB in 2016.
Nathan focuses on helping his clients become fitter, stronger and healthier by eliminating pain and weakness in the body through improving strength and quality of fundamental human movements. A system he successfully learned and adapted from an internship at world renowned high performance center ‘Cressey Performance’, Boston, MA, United States.