Any time we discuss exercise and training, we must focus on all of the elements of a successful strategy.We spend quite a bit of time on the efforts and exertion of exercise and movement. Sometimes, however, we miss one of the most important aspects.

Let’s look at just what we are trying to accomplish with our exercise. What are our goals?

Perhaps a better way to discuss this is to understand that the human body is always in a state of change. Either we are getting better or we are getting worse. So when we want to get better, we are talking about putting the body through stresses which will act like “triggers”. These triggers will then cause the body to elicit a direct response…or adaptation.

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This physiological response/adaptation process is referred to as the G.A.S.-General Adaptation Syndrome. More recently a second acronym has been used: S.A.I.D. – Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands. Both of these terms deal with the body’s adaptive changes.

So, when we do our workouts, we are simply imposing a “trigger” so that we can see a specific response and improvement in the body.

Once we understand the desired responses, we then learn just which triggers lead to which responses. Yet we still see a lot of confusion in people. They don’t understand the physiology. They don’t vary their exercise program. They don’t know how to fuel the body (nutrition). They then study to the point of knowing some of this and they typically see some decent results, but they may still be overlooking some elements.

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And one of the most commonly overlooked areas of study and application is probably the most simple of all – Rest! It is really this simple:

You don’t make gains in the gym! You make gains afterwards.

The whole idea of making good progress is to workout, safely stressing the body’s tissues and creating micro-trauma. This literally gives the body a “reason to change”. So if this is done safely and effectively, followed by good nutrition to provide building blocks for tissue repair, then the next step is to rest the body so that the repair and adaptation can actually occur.

So the rest period is as important as anything. Without it, our bodies cannot complete the adaptation process. Just look at professional athletes who have to perform constantly…daily or weekly games….long seasons.

Despite being well-trained physical specimens, their bodies don’t always have the time to fully recover from the stresses of exercise and performance. This is why we see so many sports injuries. Their bodies are “overtrained”…too much tissue damage and not enough rest time to fully recover.

So how much time is required? Typically, a body part/muscle will recover in just a few days. In my years of experience, I have seen this vary from 3 days to 6 or 7 days.

The harder you work a muscle, the more time it will need to recover. You can use muscle soreness as a gauge but if you’re always getting sore, you are probably working the body too hard and not giving yourself enough rest time. To be sure you are getting proper rest and recovery, work the body’s muscle groups once or twice weekly. That way you will be sure to get 3-4 days or 6-7 days for that process.

In addition, it is wise to plan off-weeks throughout the year. Allowing 3 to 6 off-weeks is beneficial to giving the body a break. You won’t see any atrophy, believe me. In fact, most people get this amount of off-time over the course of a year simply via colds or illness, vacation, other priority commitments, etc.

In summary, keep it simple: Hit the gym, push the muscles, feed them, and let the rest periods allow the body to make its repairs and come back better than before!

Read more from Expert Bill Wilson.

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