How much rest do you need for fitness gains


How much rest do you need for fitness gains


women running

What are rest and recovery

 

Rest is part of recovery. Recovery is what happens in your body after the end of a workout. So rest includes sleep, nutrition, time for stillness—both mental and physical, activities that provide active-recovery that provides mental/physical relaxation such as yoga and swimming, frisbee,  tennis, a walk in the park etc. Rest can include movement as long as it does not challenge the body.

 

Recovery it’s largely about tissue regeneration and nutrient delivery. Exercise creates a physical stimulus for the body to get better at a given challenge and this requires blood flow or circulation. Circulation brings nutrients to the tissues, nutrients provide the material to facilitate the improvement, and circulation is enhanced by movement. So lighter workouts can be a good idea for recovery as they enhance circulation.

 

Thus, a “rest” day is characterized by a need for some movement and not by sleeping and sitting on the couch all day. Movement is a daily occurrence. A rest day is a day where you you remove the challenge of hard exercise.

 

 

Rest time to gain fitness and not to lose it

 

It is important to first distinguish between the rest required to gain fitness, and the rest that will cause a loss of fitness. We don’t get stronger, fitter, and faster during exercise. Training benefits occur immediately after exercise. Furthermore the body needs up to 7 days to adapt to an exercise stimulus.  Thus the workout is the stimulus, while recovery and improvement is the physical response.

 

It works like this. Intense exercise drives fitness down. During rest fitness increases and eventually ‘supercompensates’,  thus elevating fitness above level before training. When the process is repeated as fitness reaches its peak, fitness continues to improve.

 

Supercompensation is the period after training during which there is a higher performance capacity than prior to the training period.

 

The key to getting this to work correctly is proper timing of rest between workouts. Not giving enough rest, or resuming activity too soon (i.e. before supercompensation) will  result in decreased overall fitness. Wait too long, however and there may be no gain in fitness.

 

The correct resting period depends on the individual and intensity of the activity, but should generally fall within 24-48 hours for most athletes.

 

 

When do fitness levels begin to fall?

 

 

I did my research and these are some figures I found regarding the time length needed for fitness and strength to suffer a noticeable decrease.

The studies referenced herein assume rest to be complete inactivity and that you have a decent base of regular training for several months. Infrequent training without goals or commitment is just random activity and will not lead to fitness gains so talking about rest and recovery doesn’t make much sense.

 

 

Fitness in terms of VO2 max

VO2 max is the volume of oxygen that your lungs and blood can deliver to your muscles. This is important for sports like cycling and running.

Fitness, from VO2 measurements starts to be affected beginning the 4th-7th day of rest. Until then nothing changes but your mood.

When rest time reaches 14-30 days  there is up to 6-20% of VO2 max loss.

At 90+ days VO2 max falls 27.5%     from peak fitness.

 

 

Strength

In terms of strength, changes are slower. There significant decrease in strength for up to 7 days or so. After than chemical changes in the muscles begin to take place but muscle endurance is more affected than strength.

At 14-30 days muscles begin to decrease in size and fewer repetitions are possible. Endurance is affected even more.

After 30 days of rest there is a noticeable decrease in strength by up to 10% as well as power. A 300lb max back squat now becomes 270lb.

At 90+ days A 300lb max back squat now becomes 237lb. Strength performance can decrease 16-21%.

 

 

Maintaining fitness gains, especially strength gains, can be done with maintenance training at a significantly reduced volume and intensity.

 

 

The initial fitness losses shouldn’t trouble the recreational athlete. Adding 30 seconds your running benchmark is not make much difference. In fact, it may even be helpful as strategic detraining (decrease in fitness) can help overcome plateaus.

 

Since the studies referenced herein assume rest to be complete inactivity this is good news as usually when we “rest” we still do our daily activities and not sit all day.

 

 

Conclusions

 

Proper recovery is as important as proper training. And, as with nutrition and everything else, there are many strategies claiming to be the correct way to train and recover.

 

Also as usual, there are rarely any strategies that will work for everyone universally. Manipulating training-recovery strategy to fit a specific individual can take some trial and error, but it provides a better understanding of what the body needs.

 

An appropriately challenging workout will, in general, require one to two recovery days.

An appropriate workout creates a sense of mild soreness, where you can feel that the muscles were challenged. Soreness should not be a debilitating and painful experience that lasts for several days. That is a poorly designed workout.

 

Many people wrongly believe that a workout must be so hard that you should feel significant soreness for several days (unfortunately, many trainers deliver this well).

 

It is important to train just above—but not too far above—one’s current abilities. Better fitness is not achieved by long gaps between training days which you’d need if you experience extreme soreness.

 

 

If you’d like to know more please download my free eBook “15 Healthy Habits For The Body”

 

 

Sources, research and further reading:
http://www.crestedbuttecrossfit.com/cbcf_blog/2014/10/rest-recovery-and-detraining-.html
https://www.acefitness.org/blog/3565/recovery-redefined-how-much-rest-you-actually-need
http://www.builtlean.com/2012/06/05/overtraining/
1
1. Detraining Definition: Mujika, Padilla S
Cardiorespiratory and metabolic characteristics of detraining in humans. NCBI/PubMed
2
Stephen Brooks, Jacky Burrin, Mary E. Cheetham, George M. Hall, Tom Yeo, Clyde Williams
The responses of the catecholamines and β-endorphin to brief maximal exercise in man
European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology 1988, Volume 57, Issue 2, pp 230-234
3
Stephenson, Roy
Comeback Trail: Detraining, Retraining and Maintenance of Fitness for Ultra Endurance Runners
TrailRunner Magazine, December 2011
4
COSTILL, D. L.; FINK, W. J.; HARGREAVES, M.; KING, D. S.; THOMAS, R.; FIELDING, R.
Metabolic characteristics of skeletal muscle during detraining from competitive swimming.
Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: June 1985
5
Dr. P. Darrell Neufer The Effect of Detraining and Reduced Training on the
Physiological Adaptations to Aerobic Exercise Training
Sports Medicine, November 1989, Volume 8, Issue 5, pp 302-320
6
E.F. Coyle, M K. Hemmert , A.R. Coggan Effects of Detraining on Cardiovascular
Responses to Exercise: The Role Of Blood Volume
Journal of Applied Physiology Published 1 January 1986Vol. 60no. 1, 95-99
7
K. Madsen , P. K. Pedersen , M. S. Djurhuus , N. A. Klitgaard  Effects of detraining on endurance
 capacity and metabolic changes during prolonged exhaustive exercise
Journal of Applied Physiology Published 1 October 1993 Vol. 75 no.  4,  1444-1451
8
Hortobágyi T, Houmard JA, Stevenson JR, Fraser DD, Johns RA, Israel RG
The effects of detraining on power athletes.
Europe PubMed Central [1993, 25(8):929-935]
9
Mujika I, Padilla S
Muscular characteristics of detraining in humans.
Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise [2001, 33(8):1297-1303]
10
Hakkinen K, Komi PV (1985). Changes in electrical and mechanical behaviour
of leg extensor muscles during heavy resistance strength training.
Scandinavian Journal of Sports Science 7: 55-64
11
M. E. Houston, E. A. Froese, St. P. Valeriote, H. J. Green, D. A. Ranney Muscle performance,
 morphology  and metabolic capacity during strength training and detraining: A one leg model
European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology1983, Volume 51, Issue 1, pp 25-35
12
READY, A. ELIZABETH; QUINNEY, H. ARTHUR
Alterations in anaerobic threshold as the result of endurance training and detraining.
Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: 1982
13
NICHOLS, J. F., D. ROBINSON, D. DOUGLASS and J. ANTHONY
Retraining of a competitive master athlete following traumatic injury: a case study.
Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 32, No. 6, pp. 1037–1042, 2000.
14
Calculation based on the Daniels & Gilbert VO2 max equation, which applies best to running with variables
only for velocity and time. The “Fran” workout is equated to a 1500m run, until more research on VO2 max
and CrossFit is available.
15
KRAEMER, WILLIAM J.; KOZIRIS, L. PERRY; RATAMESS, NICHOLAS A.; HÄKKINEN, KEIJO;
Detraining Produces Minimal Changes in Physical Performance and Hormonal Variables in
Recreationally Strength-Trained Men.
Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: August 2002
16
Neufer, PD.
The effect of detraining and reduced training on the physiological adaptations to aerobic exercise training.
Sports Med. 1989 Nov; 9(5): 302-­‐320.
17
William A. Sands PhD, CSCS
Incorporating Recovery into Your Microcycle
National Strength and Conditioning Association Online Edition: http://www.nsca.com/education/articles/incorporating-recovery-into-your-microcycle/
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Alexandra Merisoiu
Alexandra is known as The Body Engineer and is the founder of The Merisoiu Technique Institute Of Health And Natural Human Movement™.

She works with entrepreneurs, men and women, and re-engineers how the body functions to run like clockwork. This is done through building lasting foundations and a fit, strong and powerful body through Natural Movement in the Natural Environment.

Her mission is to challenge the status quo to enable people to reach their goals. This is done through building strong, lasting foundations in the natural outdoor environment; reducing the risk of injuries and educating people on the power of the fundamentals of Natural Human Movement™.

About Alexandra Merisoiu

Alexandra is known as The Body Engineer and is the founder of The Merisoiu Technique Institute Of Health And Natural Human Movement™. She works with entrepreneurs, men and women, and re-engineers how the body functions to run like clockwork. This is done through building lasting foundations and a fit, strong and powerful body through Natural Movement in the Natural Environment. Her mission is to challenge the status quo to enable people to reach their goals. This is done through building strong, lasting foundations in the natural outdoor environment; reducing the risk of injuries and educating people on the power of the fundamentals of Natural Human Movement™.

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