It is common knowledge that hard work is what builds muscle and helps you lose weight. What is less commonly known is that plenty of rest between workouts will make your work far more effective. If you jump into a workout regimen and push yourself to the limit every day, you’re doing more harm than good. Your muscles don’t have time to regenerate and grow stronger when they are strained too quickly again after a workout. Constantly tearing down your muscles rather than building them up is called overtraining, and it can leave you flat on your back instead of energized after a workout.
Rest is a Vital Part of Getting Stronger
Believe it or not, the hours between your workout is when your body is doing most of the hardest work. Your exercise routine asked for an increase in oxygen and blood flow, so your body gave you what you needed to finish the workout. When you stop, your body remembers that you needed that increased oxygen and blood flow so it begins to work so that it will be easier to provide when you exercise again. This shift in your body’s ready energy stores is what builds up your endurance so that you can work longer and harder eventually. If you cut that preparation time short, your body will be constantly trying to catch up and it will actually take longer for you to reach a higher level of fitness.
Exercise Breaks Muscles Down
The reason you feel sore after a good workout is that your muscles have been broken down by the extra effort you put them through. It takes time for the muscles to knit themselves back together so that they are ready to be used again. If you exercise them again too quickly, the damage becomes more severe and it will take even longer for the muscles to gain real strength. Most fitness specialists recommend waiting at least 48 hours between hard workouts so that your muscles can repair themselves fully before you ask them to work hard again. The good news is that your muscles will repair themselves so that they are stronger, which will allow you to increase your workouts over time.
The Body Gains Strength Slowly
The human body makes very few changes quickly. If you are just starting to work out, you might be frustrated at the slow pace you need to maintain at first. You might even feel like you are not working enough to make a difference during the first few weeks of training. Remember that those first few workouts are building a foundation so that you will be able to benefit more from the harder workouts later. Your body needs time to build itself up so that it can deliver the oxygen and blood flow that you need for a harder workout. Give your cells and muscles time to change so that they can help you instead of wearing you down.
Common Signs of Overtraining
The most obvious sign of overtraining is constant fatigue. When done properly, a good workout regimen should leave you feeling more energetic the rest of the day. If you find yourself dragging along hours after the workout has ended, you are probably working too hard or too often. Excessive soreness is another sign that you’re overdoing it. If your muscles are still screaming a full day after you worked out, you could probably cut back on the intensity of your exercise. Overtraining means that you are working so hard that you’re tearing down your body instead of building it up.
It Could All Be in Your Head
A research study in Zurich has pinpointed the role of the brain in the fatigue that some people feel after long workouts. Researchers found that a person’s attitude plays a big part in how tired they feel when they are doing exercise that involves endurance. The bottom line is that your muscles will give out on you before you reach the level of exercise that you believe is your maximum level, even if you have the physiological strength to continue. The difference between thinking yourself into fatigue and overtraining is that the fatigue from overtraining is longer lasting.
Push Yourself, but Not Too Hard
You can work out daily without overtraining. Most fitness experts recommend that you alternate the type of exercise you do every day so that you are working different muscles in different ways. For example, you could do strength training on one day and aerobic training the next day. This allows you to create a good exercise routine that gives your muscles a chance to get the rest they need between workouts. Remember that even when you are sleeping your body is still working as hard as it can to become stronger.