What is that they say? No rest for the wicked?! Well, whoever ‘they’ are, they are wrong. You may be wicked. You may even be awesomely wicked. You may even star in the hit musical ‘Wicked’, but you, like everyone else, need your rest.
Many people who want to get in shape tend to join up for every session possible with little to no time between sessions, and may want to try and fit in a run and a bootcamp session before the clock has hit 12pm. If that is you (and I guess there are a few that this will 100% apply to), then stop, and have a think about what you are doing to yourself!
What is Overtraining?
The time will come in your training when enough is enough, and your performance will start decreasing quickly. The point may not be completely apparent to you, but you will start to feel it the next time you start a session after the point of no (dramatic) return.
Overtraining is a state of the body where it has been pushed beyond its limit through training. This should not be confused with tiredness, as this is obviously a point you will meet from a particularly troubling session!
This state should not be ignored, as you may have trouble getting out of bed in the morning, not being able to achieve a good sleep, and experience a serious level of muscle soreness.
If the state of overtraining falls into a long-term period, then there can be some very serious consequences to your health! Your muscular, neurological and hormonal systems can take a real hit.
There are going to be times when you feel fatigued, but what exactly is fatigue!
What is Fatigue?
There are a few factors to fatigue, depending on the type of training or event that you are participating in.
Fatigue rears its ugly head in your metabolic system (energy stores), tissue damage (dead legs, bruising), Neurological (peripheral nervous system), psychological (central nervous system) and environmental. Of course, each is affected in different ways, depending on the training taking place.
For instance, your metabolic system will be affected more from high volume training such as HIIT, or endurance running. Whereas your neurological system will be affected more from big lifts in the gym through strength and power development training.
Think of your body as a Formula 1 car; in an F1 race, each car’s team strategically plans their pit stops in accordance with trying to achieve an optimal level of performance. The same thing is true for our body (I wish I could take credit for this analogy, believe me).
How Do I Train the Right Way?
This is going to depend on your goal, but there is a general guideline that most trainers will follow and then recommend to their athletes/participants.
You must be causing a state of ‘progressive overload’ where your body is adapting at a steady, beneficial rate to your training load. Your body will go through a period of adapting to its environment resulting in a 3 stage process.
I’ll explain. Your body will be exposed to training at a level that is above what you are used to experiencing and fatigue will set in. This is phase 1.
Phase 2 is the resistance phase where your body will learn to cope efficiently with the training and you may see several ‘hyper-adaptations’ to resist the trainings stressors.
Phase 3 is where fatigue sets in and you will start to see your performance drop slightly. This is the point where you must start the recovery process.
Many will try and fight the fatigue and will ‘power through’. Listen to your body, you need to rest so that your body can assess and adapt to its new level of strength and/or fitness.
Start the recovery process with a period of rest that enables you to be fresh and ready for your next training session, allowing you to go hard again and see further gains in your performance.
How Do I Rest Effectively?
There many ways to take a load off, and the most effective methods are usually the simplest.
Eat well after your session, get a nice structured meal where you hit the right amount of your macros (carbs, fats, proteins).
Get your 8 hours sleep at night. Even take a little snooze during the day if you want to. Sleep is always good!
Stretch out. Do your foam rolling daily and make sure you are trying to improve your mobility and flexibility.
There is so much you can do to recover before your next session, just make sure you don’t burn yourself out too quickly. Those performance gains can still be had; you’ve just got be patient!