Why Recovery Days Are Crucial
If you’re not sold on taking a day off from the gym, read on to discover what benefits it can provide…
If you’re just starting to workout, or if you’re a seasoned fitness practitioner, you may be tempted to think that you need to be in the gym, every day, pushing yourself to the limit. However, the human body isn’t designed to grow and adapt under constant physical strain. Recovery is so important because the human body needs the time in order to grow. If you’re not sold on taking a day off from the gym, read on to discover what benefits it can provide and why it’s so important for your body.
It’s important to note that recovery doesn’t mean sitting on the couch eating junk food. In reality, that’s more often an excuse for laziness and is not a recipe for building good habits or the fitness level you want. Such a misconception may be a reason you think a recovery day isn’t an option for you in your current workout plan, especially if you have a specific goal in mind.
Admittedly, that sort of recovery won’t do much to help you. Recovery works primarily by helping your muscles rebuild themselves after a strenuous workout. The basic idea behind exercise is that, by challenging your body, you encourage it to rebuild itself in order to handle the increased workload. With that being said, it’s simple to see why recovery is so important. If your body never has a chance to rebuild, you probably won’t see results.
Active recovery might be a better term for what is meant in the fitness industry by recovery. A tough workout may leave you sore and unable to move, but active recovery can help you stretch sore muscles and aid in the rebuilding process. Whether that’s light cardiovascular activity (like walking), light body-weight exercises, or stretching, the key is to keep muscles moving to avoid tightness while stimulating them. Muscles need time to recover from a load or from strenuous activity, but keeping them loose avoids excessive soreness and keeps them stimulated to rebuild stronger. Yoga is an excellent way to recover while still keeping your muscles engaged, with the added benefit of improving strength and flexibility.
It’s critical to pay attention to health and nutrition during your recovery phase. Getting a full night of sleep is crucial to providing your muscles the time they need to recover, and keeping hydrated helps you avoid cramps and keeps your body working optimally. Likewise, making sure you get the right nutrition helps encourage your muscles to rebuild properly.
While protein is the best-known ingredient for muscular growth, fats and carbs also play an important part in the recovery process. Healthy carbs help you keep energy levels high to get through that next workout, and helps keep your body from burning muscle for energy. While healthy fats can help your heart, immune system and even keep your blood working. Your entire body is involved in the recovery process, and getting the right nutrition helps keep all of your bodily functions working properly.
At its most basic, recovery helps your muscles rebuild themselves. Muscular tissue is damaged during exercise (particularly resistance exercises), and that muscular tissue needs to rebuild itself. Ideally, the tissue is strengthening while it rebuilds. Along with strengthening, there is generally an increase in muscle mass that can have significant impacts on fat loss as well, since muscle burns fat to provide energy for itself. In essence, the muscle on your body consumes the fat.
However, recovery can also provide you with an opportunity to stretch yourself out, give yourself a break without feeling guilty, and get you ready for the next workout. After a good day of recovery, you may find yourself able to lift heavier weights, push yourself harder, or go longer than before. You’re giving your body a chance to reap the benefits of your workout.
Recovery is arguably the most important part of your workout plan. It’s the time when the benefits of exercise actually happen, and it’s important for muscular repair. It can do wonders for your psyche as well, especially if you push yourself daily doing intense workouts. It doesn’t need to be an entire day of inactivity. You can still do a light workout if you’re afraid of falling off the wagon or losing the good habits you’re trying to build. However, you will see better results if you make sure you build recovery into your fitness plan.
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