Most people do not believe the importance of rest for recovery. The strange thing is your body doesn’t get actually get fitter or stronger when you’re working out. In fact, in order for your body to recover from the physical strain you put it through, you need to rest consistently. As a consequence of rest, your body can recover and then develop muscle.
To put things into perspective let’s imagine a pie chart that we have divided up it into four equal parts. Each one of these parts are just as important as the other. This pie chart is going to be the foundation of a successful fit lifestyle. The first element is fitness, the second is nutrition, the third mindset and the fourth is rest.
When you balance strength training and rest in equal measure, you will be able to recover from almost any stress you apply to your muscles.
Sweet Dreams & Quality Rest
When recovering from workouts, there is nothing more crucial than a good night’s sleep. Inadequate levels of sleep or sleep deprivation are common place in today’s world. Studies have suggested that if you go to bed too late and your sleep is too short or interrupted, this will have a detrimental effect on your bodies ability to repair itself.
There are a number of possibilities of why your sleep can suffer; financial stress, family life, stress from work etc. I’ve had many a sleepless night, lying wide awake, thoughts rushing through my head; as I’m sure many of you reading this have experienced as well. Over the years I’ve come up with a number of helpful techniques to maximise my chances of a good night’s sleep:
- Set Yourself A Bedtime – My preferred time to go to bed is between 10pm – 10:30pm, but no later (except occasionally on weekends). This will give you an adequate amount of sleep time (even if you wake up at 6am, like I do), giving your body precious time to repair.
- Stay Off Your Phone – I like to ban myself from using my phone at least 30 minutes before going to bed. The bright light from the screen stimulates your brain, causing you to be more awake than you should. In addition, I also like to turn on ‘Night Mode’ which turns the screen a slightly sepia colour, which is easier on the eyes.
- Keep Lists – When I’m stressing about things I’ve got to sort out, I like to compile lists. I’ve found that when I can visualise everything on my to-do list, it doesn’t stress me out nearly as much as when I haven’t. As a consequence, less stress equals more sleep.
- Sleep In The Dark – If you increase the darkness of where you sleep, then there will be less stimulation for your brain to keep you awake. Black-out blinds or dark shaded curtains are a must. If you’re away from home then a good quality eye mask can work just as good.
How To Mitigate Injury & What To Do If You Are
The risk of injury is far greater when performing resistance training with weights, than it is when performing calisthenics. Despite this reduced risk it’s important to minimise the chance of getting injured as much as you can. Bodyweight exercises still put an enormous amount of pressure on your tendons, muscles, ligaments and bones.
The basics steps to avoid injury are resting an appropriate amount, no over training and only progressing when you are sure your body is ready. In addition, flexibility and mobility exercises are needed before and after workouts in order to prevent injuries.
Getting injured can really throw a spanner in the works when it comes to your fitness regime. I’ve learnt the hard way when I damaged my rotator cuff in my shoulder. I thought I could just push through the pain and it would be alright. Believe me when I say this was the wrong thing to do. I ended injuring myself further and had to stop working out for a considerable amount of time. If you do get injured, my advice is to seek a professional sports physiotherapist right away.
It’s important to be aware of the most common bodyweight injuries you may come across. This way you can know what to look for and hopefully avoid them.
- Elbow Tendinitis – The elbow is used a great deal in bodyweight exercises and overuse can result in soreness and inflexibility.
- Straining The Core – The core is engaged in the majority of bodyweight exercises and therefore goes under a lot of strain. It’s easy to pull your abs; listen to your body and watch out for soreness.
- Scapulae Are Unstable – Bear in mind that your scapulae are the most unstable joints in your whole body and yet you will use them a lot in bodyweight exercises. High risk of injury! Appropriate warm-ups, mobility exercises are an absolute must.
Don’t Neglect Your Hands
Your hands are used in most of the bodyweight exercises you will perform and require a great deal tender love and care. It’s common for your hands to be sore after a big pull-up session or after using the parallettes for a long time. Make sure you rest your hands and apply moisturiser.
It’s also very common to form calluses at the base of each finger, where they meet the palm. My advice is to not allow them to get to big as they will have a negative effect on the mobility of your hands. I prefer to use a nail file and gently remove a few layers of the calluses. Don’t remove the calluses entirely, as they are there to prevent your skin from blistering.
If you like to use liquid chalk, to increase grip, I suggest applying moisturiser after each workout. The alcohol in the liquid will dry out your skin, leaving them susceptible to tears and rips.
Ligaments & Tendons Take Longer To Recover
Compared to muscles, tendons and ligaments can take up to 10 times longer to heal if injured. They are often a misunderstood and neglected part of strength training. Bodyweight exercises require heavily on your ligament and tendon strength. It’s therefore crucial to allow enough time for rest and recovery.
Final Thoughts – Rest Is Key!
If you want to get stronger and really progress with your training you must allow yourself enough time to rest. The majority of rest time comes in the form of sleep. Therefore, it’s a no brainer to cash in as much quality sleep as you can. Following a few simple methods can improve your quality of sleep dramatically. Quality sleep translates to efficient recovery.
When you haven’t recovered from strength training, you are more prone to injury. You can minimise the risk of injury by using mobility and flexibility exercises before and after workouts. But, the most important thing you can do to mitigate injury is by resting.
The bottom line is that if you don’t allow enough rest time for your tissues to heal, after strength training, you will not recover in time and you will not get stronger.
Train Hard, Rest Hard!