In Part 1 I looked at the difference between ‘exercising’ and ‘training’ and how specific training and progressive overload are routes to genuine fitness progress. Let’s look at the remaining elements that will bring you real results!
Understandably the vast majority of people concentrate on the act of exercising, whether that’s lifting weights or pounding out miles on the treadmill, but actually it is when in rest that the gains are made.
In Part 1 I spoke about ‘Adaptation’ – the way the body responds and adapts to the stresses placed on it – and it is adaptation that you are looking for in training. This is what occurs during recovery.
In the same way that you plan your training, you must also plan your recovery, or rest periods, because if you don’t get this right you won’t see fitness progress.
Put simply – without adequate rest or recovery there will be no adaptation.
And no adaptation means no progress!
This is a simple, absolute biological and physiological fact. Yet the psychological fact is rather different. For anybody who takes their training seriously, ‘time off’ doesn’t feel very productive!
Fitness and previous gains will not be lost when resting! In fact the very opposite is true, and once we are comfortable with and accepting of this fact, we will be able to plan recovery properly and see genuine fitness progress.
If your training is relentless and without respite you are not giving your body the time and opportunity to recover and all your efforts will be counterproductive. If you need evidence of the way training is properly managed, look at elite sportspeople. They train in cycles, they absolutely prioritise recovery to ensure they reach a physical peak.
But don’t rest too long!
If you get rather too comfortable in your rest and recovery something else will occur – Reversibility…and you don’t want this!
This is when training has been absent too long and the body begins to reverse into its previous state.
To some degree the body is brilliant at banking the training and physical exercise you have accrued over the years, but it can only do so much of that before the stores ‘dry up’.
This leads to the dreaded ‘lost fitness’!
So getting the balance right between training absence and beneficial recovery is vital. And the truth is there is no exact formula; it depends on the individual, their age, the intensity and type of training they are doing, what they are doing nutritionally and even things such as stress levels and sleeping patterns.
For most people two or three days off a week does the job. If you are training particularly hard, these two or three days are important and can be mixed with ‘lighter’ weeks when the intensity can be reined in, before returning to full training and going for that progressive overload again.
Following these principles, outlined in Parts 1 & 2 of Fitness Progress – How To Achieve It, you will be able to make your training properly meaningful and make real, lasting fitness progress!
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* Lead picture of Joey Bull by John Dietrich