This post couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m currently sitting on my couch, on a Monday, completely exhausted. I burned the candle at both ends last week and feel like I don’t have anything left to give. Which means I need some time to recover.
But today I want to talk about recovering from exercise. I feel like it can be hard to figure out how much is too much, when to rest, and when to push through. Especially when you’re just starting to work out and everything hurts, for sometimes months at a time. And every person is a bit different. So I wanted to share my own experience and what I’ve learned from 10+ years of working out regularly.
You HAVE TO rest. I know there are some fitness influencers and experts out there who talk about no rest days or “active rest days” but without rest, the body can’t repair.
- Rest helps heal and repair many different things in our body like heart and blood vessels.
- Rest keeps our immune system strong.
- Rest helps maintain a healthy balance of hormones, some of which regular hunger cues.
- Rest helps repair muscle tissues that have been broken down during workouts.
Rest not only means a stronger body inside, but it means you will have a stronger looking body on the outside. If you constantly work out and do not rest, your body is in a constant state of inflammation. When you remove it from an inflammatory state for a day or two, it has time to repair those muscles that were broken down. Repaired muscles = toned muscles.
If you’re one of those people who doesn’t believe in rest days and always “actively rests” – your body will push back some day. Whether that’s through injury or illness, it will push back. For years I never took full rest days. And guess what happened? I injured my shoulder and my hip, and my hard work never actually showed through because I was in a state of constant inflammation. And it took me years to recognize that my excessive working out was actually leading to more issues than progress.
Now figuring out the right amount of time between workouts can be tough. If you have never worked out, starting with 2-3 workouts per week is a great start. I started with M/W/F workouts, with a full weekend off. Then I was able to add more workouts as I became more fit. But you honestly have to figure out what works for you, and that will change over time. For a long time when I was doing full body workouts on a weekly basis, I would workout Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, rest Thursday, work out Friday and Saturday, then rest on Sunday.
Now things are a little different because I split train. I break up my workouts between upper body days, lower body days, and HIIT days, resting 2 days a week. This gives my muscles ample time to rest and recover. And if I’m ever too sore, I give myself an extra day off to recover. It all just depends on how I’m feeling.
Of course, there are supplements that are suppose to help with recovery and I know a million people who take them, but I’ve never experienced better recovery from taking them, so I rarely do. Some supplements to keep in mind for recovery include:
- Probiotics – Healthy gut means the body can repair at a quicker rate
- Fish Oil – Helps with bone repair and muscle soreness
- BCAA’s – Helps with muscle protein synthesis and preventing muscle soreness
- Glutamine – An amino acid that speeds up recover
There are other supplements that help with recovery, but these are definitely some of the best and worth looking in to if you’re needing a little extra help with your recovery. I don’t personally take any on a regular basis, but they may be helpful for you!!
At the end of the day, figuring out your own rest and recovery schedule is personal. You gotta listen to your body, try different days, and figure out what works for YOU. Hopefully my own experience helps you figure out your own schedule!