Shari Duncan

Rest… And Grow Stronger.
Shari

by on Apr.10, 2011, under Fitness, General HEALTH, Motivation

Active Rest: Because you just can’t train ALL out, ALL the time.

Resting is an essential element of training… as long as it is active.

Active rest is light exercise performed on non-training days at an easy pace with little stress.  The low-intensity assists blood circulation which in turns removes lactic acid, reduces blood lactate and speeds muscle recovery for your next high-intensity session. Active rest is NOT the assigned times in between sets of exercises during strength-training and it is NOT the recovery during interval training during a cardio session.

In the recent past, athletes were encouraged to rest completely after a competition or on a day off.  But newer research shows that engaging in low-intensity exercise during “rest” is better for maintaining fitness levels.  Low-intensity exercise flushes out lactic acid and delivers healing oxygen to the muscles.  Active rest activities are easy recreational movements… so keep intensity at levels lower than regular training.

The guideline for this is to exercise at 65% of your maximum heart rate. To determine that, calculate 220 minus your

Get your Glow on... Active REST makes you FITTER!

age, then times that number by .65. Otherwise, increase your breathing and heart rate to slightly above normal level. Be mindful to work hard enough so your body can exercise effectively, but not hard enough that you produce more lactic acid.  Getting your blood pumping will help flush away waste products like lactic acid that can build up in muscles post exercise.  You won’t be blinded by sweat, but you’ll get a good glow on.

Examples of active rest activities for strength athletes would be yoga, hiking, biking or walking.  If you are an avid spinner, you may try a round of tennis. Swimming, gardening, or tossing a Frisbee with the dog; you get the picture. Leave the stopwatch and heavy weights for training days.  Workouts should be at least 20 minutes in duration.

If you don’t actively rest, you risk burn out: a condition when stressors become too great in relation to your body’s ability to adapt. As a result, your training can be derailed for weeks or months to regain energy due to over-training. That’s why variation within your training week is important. The light days make the heavy days possible. They should enhance your more intense workouts and they should be equally enjoyable. If done right, scheduled active rest days will prevent over-training, injuries and mental fatigue.

Don’t confuse a day of ACTIVE REST with DOING NOTHING or having A LIGHT WORKOUT DAY.

ACTIVE REST days allow you to get your heart rate elevated and blood circulating. Also, remember an ACTIVE REST day is not a day off from good nutrition!

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