Rest weeks

Rest weeks

If you are working towards a fitness goal you want to make as much progress as you can. Increasing intensity, resistance, or duration each week may seem like the right thing to do, but you may be putting yourself at risk of injury, burning out mentally, or the overtraining effect where you no longer see improvements in fitness because your body can’t keep up with the stresses being placed on the body.

So what can you do to keep making progress but also take care of your body?

Rest weeks. Now before you jump in and tell us that you couldn’t possibly stop exercising for a whole week, let us explain what we mean by “rest”,

Lets use a very basic example of weights training. A progression plan might look like this:

Week 1: 10kg

Week 2: 11kg

Week 3: 12kg

Week 4: 13kg

Week 5: 14kg

Week 6: 15kg

So small increases in weight (resistance) each week. If we know that the improvements you have made to your fitness and strength can start to deteriorate in as little as 7 days, then of course we don’t want to be taking every second week off do we?

But what we can do is give our body a break in a different way, by implementing a “rest” week, which is a week where exercise is done at a slightly lower intensity, and so is putting less strain on the entire system. A 4 week rest cycle might look something like this:

Week 1: 10kg

Week 2: 11kg

Week 3: 12 kg

Week 4: 11kg

Week 5: 12kg

Week 6: 13kg

At week 4 you drop back to the level you were at in week 2, so you are still exercising, don’t lose the fitness gains you have already made, but your body treats this like it is a rest week, and can repair and restore, setting you up for better results in the future, and minimised your risk of injury or overtraining.

What about recovery between sessions?

Cardio you are generally fine to do every day as long as the duration isn’t extreme, but resistance exercises or weights training is ideally spaced 48 hours apart to allow for recovery and your muscles to repair and rebuild micro-tears. One option if you exercise daily is to work upper body and lower body on alternating days, so that the individual muscle groups worked are getting a 48 hour break.

Lastly, make sure you are providing your muscles with adequate carbohydrate and protein in the hour before or after exercise, to offer the building blocks required for recovery.

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