So you've been busying yourself in the gym for countless hours trying to build those muscles up. Or perhaps you're just a fitness enthusiast. Either way, it's of utmost importance that you take as much proper rest as you do when working out.
Contrary to popular belief, overtraining does not result to a better nor healthier body. It only impedes muscle performance which makes long-hour workouts futile and even more damaging to your body. Rest should be an integral part of your workout regimen. After all, it is every bit of a muscle-repair and muscle-building process as any weight-lifting or exercise you do.
Here are some tips to attaining that proper rest:
Hydrate. Weigh yourself before and after exercise. For every kilogram of weight lost, drink one litre of water. Don't wait until you're thirsty before you take a water break. It's important to drink water in between workouts to lessen fluids lost to sweating. It's advisable to drink at least 400-600ml of water two hours before your workout. Keep in mind that water helps in detoxifying the body, balances body temperature, and helps in transporting nutrients and oxygen in the body, and so on. Do not take it for granted.
Sleep. Naturally, we need eight hours of sleep in order to fully recover. It is during this time that our bodies repair and restore damaged muscle tissues, maintain blood flow, and circulate nutrients to other parts of the body. To ensure the quality of your sleep, take a rest in a dark and quiet room. This, too, will help your mind relax because the brain performs less demanding activities.
Hot and Cold Baths. Alternating between hot and cold baths after a workout has been a practise amongst bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts alike. Essentially, it is better to start with the body fully submerged in hot water, i.e., 110 Fahrenheit, for about 3 minutes and then in cold water, i.e. 60 Fahrenheit, for about a minute. Repeat this thrice for best results. This can be done once or twice a day. What's essential here is the amount of time you spend per bath and how much the hot temperature varies from the cold temperature. Cold baths cause the blood vessels to constrict thereby draining the blood from the worked-out muscle, removing lactic acid. Once you get out of the cold bath, the capillaries dilate allowing new blood (with oxygen) to flow into the muscle, improving cellular functions.
Massage. Massages are a common way of alleviating both physical and mental stress. Not only does it improve your mood state, but it rejuvenates your muscles, too, by targeting points where those muscle pains occur. It helps in improving blood flow, removing lactic acid, and circulating nutrients and oxygen within the body.
Nutrition. A proper diet goes hand-in-hand with workout. Make sure to eat consistently whether training or not. It's advisable to have a 2:1 ratio of carbohydrates to proteins diet. Get those proteins in your body to help repair and rebuild muscle tissues while resting. Building up on carbohydrates helps pump up your energy for your next workout.
Cool down. It's equally important to cool down as to warm up making sure your body slows down before going into a complete stop. Allot 5-10 minutes of (light) stretching after your intensive workout, allowing the body to adapt to the decreasing activity and energy.
Rest. Possibly one of the most enjoyable things to do after a workout is to rest. Whether that means not doing anything or involving a passive rest, such as reading a book or strolling, it's important to give your body its due rest. You might fancy yourself with a good book and find a perfect place to shade under. Refreshing scenery can do you good and if you're not keen on going out to the park, you can still enjoy the view of your garden under an interior shade.
Or perhaps you'd care to take a trip down the beach and just soak in the salty scent of the water and sand. Either way, be sure to have quality rest, involving yourself only in very light activities as much as possible.
To ensure optimum rest, consider how extreme and rigorous your training is. Which of your muscles are getting the most workouts? Make sure you target those areas during your rest/recovery period. Be sure to allot a consistent rest day on your workout schedule and stick to it. Remember, it is during those rest periods that your body recovers and builds up muscles. By giving your body its much needed rest, you enable both your body and mind to increase their performance, making you all pumped up for your next workout.