Want to build muscle? Want to increase your endurance? Want to be more fit? Here is the answer… don’t work out. Yes, it’s true! And all this time, you thought the way to those nicely defined muscles was to hit the gym every day. Well, that’s where you’re wrong! Working out is obviously beneficial to our overall fitness; it strengthens our muscles, our bones, our lungs, and our heart, but by incorporating REST days into your routine, you optimize the benefits that working out provides.
Overtraining is one of the main reasons we may not see the muscle growth that we so desperately want. Working out tears down muscle. Afterward, your body repairs or replaces damaged muscle fibers through a cellular process, initiated by our immune system, where proteins are produced to help repair and build muscle and muscle fibers are fused together to form new muscle protein strands, or myofibrils. These repaired myofibrils increase in thickness and number to create muscle hypertrophy (growth). This adaption does not happen, however, while you are lifting the weights. Instead, it occurs WHILE YOU REST. This is why it is important to refrain from exercising the same muscle groups multiple days in a row.
Our immune system is amazing. Not only does it signal our bodies to produce these “repair and build” proteins after working out, but it also floods overworked areas with fluid to help cushion those areas. This is a helpful and necessary process. The problem is, fluid retention can alter proper movement, which can lead to injury. In other words, if we don’t rest these fluid-filled areas, we could get hurt. It’s like our bodies know better than we do that we should stop and rest.
The ability to recover between workouts varies from person to person. Metabolism, genetics, age, sleep quality, nutrition, and stress levels all have an impact on our recovery. Some of these factors are under our control and some are not. In order to have the best chance at creating your desired results, it is important to address the ones that we can control. So, get out there and take care of your body by eating some healthy food, getting in a good workout, and of course, giving yourself a well-deserved rest!