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Understanding the Importance of Rest and Recovery – Learn When to Take a Break

You can’t push yourself nonstop and expect positive results.

This applies to nearly any situation. Imagine cramming for an exam. You push yourself, staying up all night, only to be too tired to remember anything the day of the test.

It’s kind of the same thing when dealing with muscle growth. If you keep pushing yourself, your muscles won’t have time to recover. This recovery is a necessary step in muscle development.

But, recovery isn’t the only form of rest that you need to think about. There is also the rest period between exercises and sets.

While recovery between workout routines is often discussed, the rest between exercises could determine the effectiveness of your workout.

Learn more about rest and recovery. Learn when to take a break and when to keep going.

Why Do You Need a Recovery Period?

Your body needs to recover after a workout in order to allow the muscle tissue to repair. Even if you’re not focusing on muscle development, you still need to rest in order to gain the full effect of your workout.

You are still damaging the cells in your muscle fibers when you go for a run. These fibers need to heal, which leads to bigger and stronger fibers – and healthier muscles.

You also need to recovery in order to avoid exhaustion and fatigue. Your cardio system can get pushed to its limit. You don’t want to stress your body to the point that you pass out.

How Much Recovery Time Do You Need?

How do you recover and how long does it take? We always hear that you need to work out 5 or 6 days per week to develop stronger muscles or improve your cardiovascular health. But, this only leaves a short window between workouts for recovery.

Some research suggests that you need to give 48 hours to recover from a full workout. But, you also need to keep in mind that you don’t have to work the same muscles every day. Others suggest 72 hours for intense workouts and 8 hours of rest for people that are just starting out.

There isn’t an exact consensus on the exact amount of time that you need for recovery. Though, a growing number of fitness experts recommend alternating between hard training and low-intensity workouts.

For example, if you train hard on a Monday, you could perform yoga or Pilates on Tuesday, and go back to training hard on Wednesday. This could provide up to 48 hours of rest between intense workouts.

A low-impact workout can still allow adequate rest and recovery for an intense workout. These light workout days give you a way to maximize recovery while continuing to work out.

At the same time, you’ll still need to take occasional days off. This means a complete day off without any exercise. Even with a rotation of high-intensity and low-intensity workouts, you’ll still need to take a break to avoid exhaustion.

You could take a day off each week, or the entire weekend. Choose a plan that works with your daily schedule. You’ve got the best chances of sticking to your routine if it works with your existing work and family commitments.

There will be signs that you’re pushing too hard or not pushing hard enough. When you don’t feel that you’re getting the result that you want, you may want to adjust the intensity of your workouts.

Though there are other factors that can prevent positive results – you could hit a plateau or your muscle memory may be preventing further development. In either situation, you’ll want to mix up your routine and target your muscles in a new way.

When you’re pushing yourself too hard, you’ll begin to feel the fatigue set in. You’ll become more tired after your workouts, instead of being energized.

How Much Rest Do You Need Between Sets?

Another form of recovery that you need to consider the amount of rest time that you use between sets. When you’re performing bodyweight, resistance, or weight training exercises, you’ll often be instructed to rest between each set.

This rest time will typically vary based on the routine or instructions that you’re following. But, adjusting this time to your specific needs can help you get more out of your workout.

By increasing the rest period between sets, you can focus on increasing strength and endurance. By shortening the rest period, you target muscle size. This is due to the way that muscle develops.

The majority of the energy that your body uses while strength training comes from the Adenosine Triphosphate Phosphocreatine (ATP-PC) system. This system produces energy quickly, without the need of oxygen, using Phosphagens. It takes your body about 3 minutes to replenish these Phosphagens.

This means that you’ll want to rest for at least 3 minutes between sets if you’re more concerned with stamina and strength. But, if you’d rather get bigger quicker, you should shorten the rest period to 1 to 2 minutes.

Final Thoughts – Coming Up with a Plan That Works for You

The amount of rest and recovery that you need will depend on a variety of factors – including your needs. What do you want to get out of your workouts? You should first think about your workout schedule. Decide how many complete days off you want each week.

If you don’t want to make exercise a major part of your life, you should take 2 or 3 days off each week. Even if you’re serious about fitness, you should still take one day of rest.

You should then alternate hard and light training. Follow your most intense training with a low-intensity workout. You can continue to burn calories, stretch muscles, and get in shape while allowing your muscles to recover.

Finally, consider the amount of rest between sets. Rest for 1 minute or less to target muscle growth and rest for several minutes to target strength and stamina.

Choosing a plan that works for you isn’t that difficult. The biggest challenges are sticking to your routine and listening to your body.

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