Almost every athlete – bodybuilder, runner or any other sort of sports person will encourage at least one rest day per week. Now, something I’m confident all fitness enthusiasts are guilty of in the early days is not resting. Unless the body painfully demands a recovery period, we are all inclined to push ourselves mindlessly for dat lean bod, since we haven’t yet passed the time to see that it truly does not happen over night. Or in a week. Or two.
Allowing the body to recover between sets and during the week will not only prevent injury, pains and aches, but it’s actually helping the process. So we don’t have to think of it as a lazy, unproductive day when in fact, it’s what ultimately leads to optimal performance.
Immediate rest and Metabolic rest
For what concerns rest between sets (immediate rest), it’s recommended to take 30 to 90 seconds between each set. We’ve seen how over-stressed cells behave, so take a few seconds to rest in-between sets. If you want to superset, start small and build the endurance for it.
Now, the necessary recovery time after a training session (metabolic recovery) depends on the intensity of your workout, rather than duration. The harder you work, the more time your body will need to regulate and repair itself. Obviously, a jogg and a weight training session will differ in recovery times.
Muscle growth happens through rest
If you’ve read about hypertrophy, you know that building muscle implies giving your muscle tissue something to adapt to (so you’re stressing the cells). Said adaptation happens like this: when you work out, the stressed cells in the muscle fibers undergo microscopic damage. The injured cells release inflammatory molecules (called cytokines) that call upon the immune system to repair the injury. After damage repair, the muscle is not only recovered, but adapted to an increased capacity.
So if you want to see dem gains, take that rest day and allow your muscles to recover. Your body will tell you when it’s done repairing itself, as your muscles will no longer feel sore. You can also aid recovery by stretching, walking, and other low-intensity activities after your workout.