I am writing this article as I currently not only need to listen to my body but also listen to my own advice! I am very committed to my training and hate it when I miss a session due to being under the weather. No, I haven't got a case of the common man flu, but a sniffle and sore throat means I question whether to take a couple of days off from training so that it doesn't persevere into something worse. I suffer with asthma and therefore a chest infection could develop like it has done in the past, which then leaves me going longer without training. The key here? Listen To Your Body...
Listen To Your Body
You probably hear this many times but how many of you actually listen to your body? What does this even mean? Well, I interpret this as making sure everyday you pay close attention to signs that your body may be telling you. Some times it might be that you need to work harder, get to bed earlier, or even rest and avoid the gym so that you can recover. If you ignore the signs then you could become ill and run down like what I am currently experiencing. So listening to your body is all about detecting the signs where you could be over training or coming down with a bug and you need to rest.
Why Is Rest Important?
If you lead a busy lifestyle and are constantly doing things then you are probably in need of a good rest every now and then. Resting doesn't mean you don't have to do anything because it is a 'rest day'. Resting means, taking a day or two off from exercising and the hectic schedule you lead. Ultimately when you rest you are letting your body recover and recuperate from the tough time you put it through exercising and your lifestyle. Resting allows your body to get back to it's normal and healthy state of living. You don't know what is happening inside your body and some of the time it will be fighting infections without you realising it. Rest will also help rebuild your muscles and help reduce aches and pains. When was the last time you gave yourself a day off from exercising?
Rest To Grow?
Did you know that working out constantly without giving your body enough rest will result in you burning out? Your body can with stand a lot but at some point you won't be able to exercise day in day out without picking up an injury or an illness. What is more is that resting will actually help you grow bigger, stronger and leaner muscles. Why is this? Well, when you rest your glycogen stores within the muscles fill up which allows your muscles to look fuller and stronger. It also means that when you workout next you will also be stronger as you have more 'fuel' within the muscles that is going to keep you going for longer. How many times have you unintentionally given yourself a couple of days off from exercise due to other commitments and when you returned to the gym you were stronger and felt like you had more energy?? This is why, you have rested your body and therefore given the muscles time to grow and recover accordingly. If you lift weights, and you lift heavy weights all the time it will impact your central nervous system, CNS. Your central nervous system is responsible for lots of functions within the body and the main one is to keep you from getting ill. That's right, the central nervous system works with your immune system and the more times you rest the less chance you will get ill.
How Often Should I Rest?
Ok, the big question, how often should you rest? For some of you resting means you are slacking or you are wasting time because you should be exercising. This however isn't the case for the reasons outlined above so always try to give yourself at least one rest day per week. Unfortunately I cannot give you a set number of rest days you should have per week because you all lead different lifestyles to one another. The best thing you can do is listen to your body and normally after 3 or 4 days of heavy exercise in a row you should give yourself a day off.
My advice, if you have been exercising consecutively now for a few days and your body aches and you feel more tired than usual? Give yourself a rest day to allow your body to catch up and recuperate. Just because you rest it doesn't mean you are being slack or lazy. Quite the opposite, resting is smart and it is important to listen to what your body is telling you.