One of the biggest factors to people over-training, injury and slow improvement is their lack of respect for rest and recovery. People assume that taking a day off has a negative effect on their training. It’s the opposite. Your improvement in the sport comes from the rest and recovery methods you apply that allow your body to repair and build stronger muscles. This raises your fitness benchmark for the next workout. When you push your cardio and tear your muscle fibres, you need to let your body repair and adapt. If you continue to push yourself, the body doesn’t have the opportunity to catch up and gets too overwhelmed. If you don’t feed and rest yourself enough to help your body repair, your immune system will be compromised resulting in illness and injury.
The chart above illustrates the idea that recovery allows you to raise your performance and training over time.
I would always suggest having at least one rest day per week if not more based on how you feel. Consider also having rest weeks every three to four weeks. Just reduce the effort and volume by about 40%. Listen to your body. It’s far more sensible to have an easy day then push yourself too hard when the body isn’t 100%. Rest days can include some low-stress activity sessions without too much intensity such as yoga, swimming, and light cycling. Sleep is a critical component to recovery and is the key time that the human growth hormone is active and essential to muscle repair. Sleep allows time to adapt to mental stresses associated with exercise, hormonal imbalance and muscular tissue recovery.
After each workout, you should have an appropriate amount of time to cool down and prepare your body for recovery. Regular massage, rolling, and stretching is thoroughly recommended to loosen up tight muscles and aid recovery after each session. I have a stretch, yoga, and roll routine after every workout that relaxes my muscles and helps support my next workout.
Hydrating and replacing lost salts and glucose is important during and after a session and can provide a significant improvement in your performance and recovery time. Healthy foods that are rich in nutrients are crucial to aid your performance, and you should avoid low-quality junk foods.
Heat, ice, and compression are some methods that can further assist and speed up recovery in the muscles. These methods direct the body’s attention to specific areas by providing an increase in blood flow.
Working on hip flexors, abductors, and other minor muscles will strengthen and support the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. I typically perform a routine every two weeks that focus on all the areas around the hips and also the ankles.