RE­FRESH, RE­STORE, RE-EN­ER­GISE

How to get the most out of your rest days.

Shape (Singapore) - - Front Page -

As hard as you might crush a work­out, the real labour hap­pens on the days you don’t sweat. “When you ex­er­cise, your mus­cles un­dergo mi­cro­trauma. Af­ter­wards, what are known as satel­lite cells fuse with the dam­aged ar­eas to re­pair the mus­cle fi­bres,” says Jes­sica Matthews, se­nior ad­viser for health and fit­ness ed­u­ca­tion for the Amer­i­can Coun­cil on Ex­er­cise. But this process can hap­pen only when you’re at rest. If you keep ex­er­cis­ing, your mus­cles never get a chance to re­pair them­selves, and your progress will plateau and even­tu­ally de­cline. So tak­ing time off is es­sen­tial. But if your usual rest day is a date with your couch, can­cel those plans pronto, and use these ex­pert tac­tics to strengthen your re­cov­ery.

DON’T TAKE REST SO LIT­ER­ALLY “There’s a dif­fer­ence be­tween pas­sive and ac­tive re­cov­ery,” Jes­sica says. A pas­sivere­cov­ery day means you’re not do­ing any phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity. The only time you re­ally need one is when you’re in­jured or sick. Most of your days off should fo­cus on ac­tive re­cov­ery, which in­volves low-in­ten­sity move­ment, like an easy bike ride or walk­ing the dog, flex­i­bil­ity and mo­bil­ity ex­er­cises, or foam rolling. These ac­tiv­i­ties will in­crease cir­cu­la­tion and as­sist in chan­nel­ing key nu­tri­ents to your mus­cles so they re­pair faster, Jes­sica says. The goal is to get your heart rate up slightly and loosen any tight­ness, not break a se­ri­ous sweat. GIVE YOUR MIND A BREAK TOO Stressed ex­er­cis­ers take longer to bounce back from a strength work­out than those who are more zen, the Jour­nal of Strength and Con­di­tion­ing Re­search

re­ports. Re­searchers say el­e­vated lev­els of the stress hor­mone cor­ti­sol may im­pede re­cov­ery. Com­bat stress and speed mus­cle re­build­ing by prac­tis­ing this breath­ing ex­er­cise at least once a day, says Tif­fany Grimm, a mem­ber of the per­for­mance in­no­va­tion team at EXOS, a train­ing fa­cil­ity in Phoenix: Breathe in for four counts, hold for two, and ex­hale for six. “This brings the heart rate down, lowers blood pres­sure, and re­stores glyco­gen, which your mus­cles use as fuel,” she says. SEE YOUR FRIENDS Ex­er­cis­ing trig­gers your body’s stress and im­mune re­sponses, and tak­ing a day off al­lows these sys­tems to re­cover. So­cial­is­ing may make them shut down even faster, says Blair Crewther, a sport science con­sul­tant. That bond­ing time may also lead to the re­lease of hor­mones such as oxy­tocin and testos­terone, which have en­ergy-boost­ing, mood-el­e­vat­ing, and pain-re­duc­ing prop­er­ties. KEEP YOUR CALO­RIES STEADY Many peo­ple dial back their food in­take on days they’re not work­ing out, but that can back­fire, be­cause mus­cles need those nu­tri­ents to re­build, says di­eti­tian Marni Sum­bal, owner of Tri­marni Coach­ing and Nu­tri­tion. It can also mess with your next sweat ses­sion, she adds. “Your en­ergy stores will be de­pleted, so the fol­low­ing day, you might feel overly tired,” Marni says. Stay con­sis­tent with your healthy diet. SLEEP, SLEEP & MORE SLEEP “Bank­ing sleep has been shown to be ben­e­fi­cial for re­cov­ery,” says Amy Ben­der, a sleep sci­en­tist at the Cen­tre for Sleep & Hu­man Per­for­mance in Al­berta, Canada. When you’re snooz­ing, your lev­els of cor­ti­sol dip and your body re­leases the growth hor­mone, which helps tur­bocharge the tis­sue­and mus­cle-re­build­ing process.

As hard as you might crush a work­out, the real labour hap­pens on the days you don’t sweat.

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