If you’re a professional or amateur athlete, or you’re just a fitness fanatic, you may want to consider resting more…
Over-training is a phenomenon that is becoming better understood. Many enthusiastic athletes forget to listen to their body as they pursue excellence. But this will serve to decrease performance in the long run, not improve it. Many fitness participants follow gruelling schedules and push themselves hard. If you are in the category of people who train regularly you will want to realize when over training begins to set in and you’ll also want to adopt a “smart rest” program as part of your training.
The first goal of being well rested and therefore in peek performance condition is to ensure you are not already in the state of over-training. Here are the most obvious signs of this condition:
- often getting ill/sick
- low mood, feeling depressed
- low motivation
- trouble sleeping despite feeling exhausted
- chronic fatigue
- injured often
- constant thirst
- performance decreasing even though training harder
- a resting heart rate (first thing in morning before getting out of bed) that is faster than normal for you
If you have 4 or more of the above (especially the resting heart rate), you qualify as being over-trained. It’s high time to take some time off. A solid 3 weeks of no exercise followed by one or two weeks of very low intensity, part time exercise will do you much good. Then head into a 2 week period of moderate exercise and then finally, take another full week off.
Be warned, if you are drastically over trained however, it could take several weeks — even a few months — to recuperate. Which is why you want to listen for the beginning signs of over training and not the drastic symptoms.
If you are not over trained (have less than 4 — or none — of the above symptoms) you will want to incorporate “smart rest” techniques to ensure you never get over trained.
What is Smart Rest?
Very simply put, smart rest is pro-active breaks in your training that allows your body to recuperate before you ever go near the over training zone. As we train hard, week in and week out, our multiple body systems can start to fall behind in recovery. This can be our nervous system, our psychological state, our immune system or our musculoskeletal system. Depending on what other stresses are going on in our lives and how well nourished we are, any one of those systems can start lagging behind and cause over training to set in. By pro-actively resting before anything falls far behind, we are protecting ourselves from over training.
How Do I Implement Smart Rest?
Once every 6 to 10 weeks (you decide by listening in on how your body and mind are feeling), take an entire week off training. During this time, you can go for walks, but no exercise. None. You will want to push the fluids more than usual during your week of rest and you will want to stay away from alcohol and high sugar foods. Nutrition, hydration and rest are the antidotes to over training. Make sure you are going to bed early and on time during this week of rest.
Not only will smart rest prevent over training but it keeps your body and mind working at their peek. This will prevent mental burnout as well as injury. Remember, you are not to wait until you are starting to over train to implement smart rest, you are supposed to inject one full week of rest once every 6 to 10 weeks regardless of how well you feel. This is what maintenance looks like. You are building a fence at the top of the hill instead of having an ambulance at the bottom.
Try it out and see for yourself the benefits of smart rest!