EXERCISE AND RECOVERY By Cord Prettyman, MPT
She was a drop-dead gorgeous California beauty. A Nike model, frequent music video persona and an aspiring actress under tremendous pressure to maintain the unrealistic and unhealthy American female “body beautiful”.
A typical day of exercise consisted of a sixty-minute morning run, a ninety-minute afternoon weight workout and one-hour of kick boxing in the evening. She complained of being chronically tired and sore with erratic appetite and mood swings but a day off was out-of-the-question.
As her personal trainer, it was my job to educate her regarding the negative impact of over-training and the importance of rest for the body post-exercise. It wasn’t until I threatened to drop her as a client that she listened.
So, here’s a news flash for the vast majority of people who exercise regularly – rest is as important as your workouts. According to the American Council of Exercise, “the reality of exercise is that you don’t make progress when you work out – you make progress when you recover from the workout. The workout is the stimulus, while recovery and improvement is the physical response.”
Fundamental to an acceptance of this concept is grasping what happens to the human body during a vigorous aerobic or weight workout. Your muscles, which use glycogen and glucose to create the energy for movement are challenged to produce more ATP – the body’s energy storing molecule.
To create more ATP, your body needs more oxygen, so your breathing increases and your heart pumps more blood to your muscles. The stress of the exercise actually puts microscopic tears in your muscle tissue providing the stimulus for your body to make more muscle tissue and strengthen tendons and ligaments.
To meet the demands of more oxygen, the body lays down more capillary beds and strengthens the heart so that it can pump more blood per heartbeat. Aiding in the delivery of fuel to the muscles is improved through your body creating more mitochrondria, which is the cellular powerhouse at the end of the body’s energy cycle.
Collectively, the above changes are known as a “training effect,” which occurs when the body is recovering from exercise, not during the act of exercise. Denying your body rest and recovery inhibits its ability to strengthen, repair and rebuild muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, the heart and lungs and leads to diminished athletic performance.
Symptoms of overtraining include a feeling of general malaise, staleness, depression, decreased performance and an increased risk of injury.
The rule-of-thumb for total body strength workouts is to allow 48 hours of recovery before working the same muscles groups again but not more than 96 hours. For aerobic exercise, it’s important to alternate hard workouts with easy workouts with long-slow-distance days taking every third or fourth day off.
Perhaps, the best advice is to listen to your body. If you think you could use a day or two off, take it.
And don’t neglect the importance of quality sleep. During REM sleep, your body’s production of growth hormone increases, which aids in the repairing and rebuilding of muscles post-workout.
Train smart. Life’s a marathon, not a wind-sprint.
Cord Prettyman is a certified Master Personal Trainer and owner of Absolute Workout Fitness and Post-Re-hab Studio in Woodland Park. He can be reached at 687-7437, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org through his website at www.cordprettyman.com.