The Importance of Rest and Recovery
So when you’re up in the gym (k, or the barre) just working on your fitness, do you know what is actually happening? You are damaging your muscle fibers. We know what you’re thinking, sounds scary … but its not, it is good! When your muscle fibers are damaged, they recover. When they reconstruct, they actually grow back stronger and increase in size. So this means that you are actually making those gains during your periods of rest, not while you are actually working out. This concept especially applies to resistance training, which is exactly what we do at the barre!
Now here is the tricky part: just how much time should I allow my body to recover and rebuild after resistance training? Some experts recommend 24 hours, some recommend two days (we all know optimal soreness hits hard on day 2), and some research says a whole three days. With so many mixed messages, it is hard to give an exact amount of time required for proper restoration. However, there is one thing that we can tell you for sure: some amount of rest and recovery is required within your fitness routine to enhance muscle growth, prevent injury, avoid over training and promote overall health. The research all agrees that 15 minutes is not enough time to recover, 2 hours is not enough time to recover, even 12 hours is not enough time to recover. An extended period of time (24-72 hours) is required to properly restore your muscles after training them. With that said, the extended period of time will vary from person to person.
So what does this mean for us? It actually means that taking multiple classes in one day may not be the most efficient means of exercising. By damaging muscle fibers, not allowing a recovery period, then damaging them again, you are actually causing more harm than good. Our advice to you would be to go as hard as you can in class, push your limits, sink a little deeper, squeeze a little tighter, and then allow your body time after to recover and reset. Plus, we all know that if you’re planning on busting out a double barre sesh … you’re going to pace yourself throughout. It is far more effective to train properly for one hour than it is to cheat and hold back for two!
Now that we have determined that rest days are super important, we want to share with you a few of our favorite things to do on rest days to keep pushing towards fitness goals and promote overall wellness. First off, and probably the most important, STRETCH. Muscle restoration requires stretching! Take a few minutes at home, put on the latest episode of your favourite TV show, and get a good stretch session in to speed up the recovery process. Some other beneficial ways to speed up the recovery process includes foam-rolling, heating/cooling, and massage therapy. If you are a mover and shaker like us, an entire 48 hours without exercise just feels wrong. In this is the case, we really promote active rest days. Take part in light, low impact exercises that do not add any additional strain to the muscles that are currently undergoing recovery. Some ideas for active rest days include going for a light walk, swimming laps, yoga, or low-intensity cycling. In comparison to passive recovery (taking a complete break from exercising), active recovery actually helps prime the body’s metabolic pathways of recovery.