Wednesday, April 1, 2020



For most people, the favorite part of the week is Sunday! Even the person most passionate about his job eagerly awaits the Sunday break! A weekly break from our set routines is what helps us stay motivated & be more productive at work….
Our body systems & muscles are no different & they too require rest intervals to replenish their capacities & perform their functions at their best!

Regular training & exercise is the most important part of any athlete’s routine. Every athlete needs to train for his sport & plan an exercise regimen to improve his physical fitness.  Missing out on any of these is just not acceptable. Not only athletes, but any person who has a goal of being fit needs a strict, structured regular exercise program.
Good focus is given on intensity & frequency of exercise while planning a workout, but an aspect most often ignored, is planning for rest intervals.


An athlete or any fitness conscious person is totally driven by his goals of improving strength & endurance. Telling them to slow down, rest & take it easy is the biggest crime ever!! But, what we need to realize is more is not always better & planned rest intervals are absolutely essential to achieve all fitness goals. Rest does not always mean slowing down but instead it improves the quality of your workouts.

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What we have always learnt is that the only way to improve strength is to keep challenging our body systems more and more till its fullest capacity. Then how will rest help in improving our fitness?? Here’s how…

·       Replenishes energy stores- Appropriate rest intervals in between sets- A working muscle burns its existing energy stores to produce force, rest allows the muscle to replenish that stock of energy. Thus, your muscle is all boosted up for the next bout of activity!
·       Prevents fatigue- Activity of the muscles creates certain waste products. If the muscle does not relax, these wastes accumulate inside the muscle causing rapid fatigue & hence reduced force production by that muscle. This waste is cleared by our blood during a rest interval, which maintains quality of force produced during muscular activity. Exercise also tires your cardiovascular & nervous systems. A rest interval will also reduce the stress on these systems.
·       Reduces chances of injuries- Research has proven that fatigue severely affects the body’s ability to continue any activity. Pulling on with an exercise even when you are evidently fatigued is surely an invitation to injuries. A really good protection against injury is learning to recognize the signs of fatigue & allow for adequate rest periods.
·       Prevents overuse injuries- Overuse injury is a highly preventable category of injury, where the only cause of injury or pain is over work! These type of injuries occur in all sports & all activities performed repeatedly. As the only cause is constant loading due to over work, the obvious solution is adequate rest! Here, rest does not completely stopping that activity; but, it means reducing load on your tissues during that activity. This can be done by slight modifications in those activities.
·       Allows time for tissues to heal- Small injuries seldom stop an athlete from playing! Even during routine exercise people believe in the idea of ‘no pain, no gain’. This attitude may seem passionate, but actually it delays healing if you have an injury. Instead it may aggravate what was actually a very small injury! Again the golden solution is appropriate rest! Consult your physiotherapist to learn the nature of your injury & how much rest period is required for its healing!
·       Enhanced athletic performance- The above benefits of allowing adequate rest periods eventually translate into improved physical fitness & sporting performance!! Not only physical but even mental stress & fatigue is targeted with rest! It helps to maintain motivation & interest levels leading to better performance! Your physiotherapist can help you maintain appropriate training levels & prevent harmful effects of overtraining.

Now that we have agreed upon the importance of rest periods, the next important question is how much & when to take these breaks!
The objective of rest in exercise is to facilitate performance of required intensities of workouts without landing up into injuries. This parameter can be introduced in various forms throughout an exercise regimen.

·       Rest intervals in between sets of the same exercise- Duration of a rest interval between two sets of the same exercise is decided on what your goal is. Is the goal is increasing muscular strength, an interval of 2-5 minute rest is recommended. But if your goal is improving muscular endurance, the rest interval should not be more than 30 seconds.
·       Active rest- For everyone who hates stopping their exercises, this is the perfect solution! As the name suggests, active rest involves exercising some other, unrelated muscle group while the overused muscle gets its relaxation break! How to go about with active rest?
1.     Circuit training- it is a form of workout where you cyclically perform different exercises. Consecutive exercises target different muscle groups & so muscles are allowed a rest period until the next cycle starts. This allows you to keep workouts short but effective & also cuts down exercise boredom!
2.     Every gym freak has his planned lower body, upper body & core days. This is an application of active rest. It works on the principle that same muscle group should not be exercised for 2 consecutive days. So, if you are targeting your leg muscles today, work on your upper body & core for the next 2 days. On the third day your legs are no longer sore & are gain ready for intense workout!
3.     Incorporate various exercises to target the same muscle group. This will modulate the intensity of load on your muscle & also make your workout more interesting!
4.     Exercise with reduced intensities in case of fatigue. Reduce weights or reduce repetitions to avoid unwanted effects of fatigue.
·       Recovery strategies- Develop your own preferred methods of unwinding post an intense workout or game! Recovery strategies can range from hot showers, ice baths, massages to personalized playlists, cheat days & meditation! These strategies help to wash out both physical & mental fatigue & gets you prepped up for further challenges!
·       Sleep- The ultimate rest, is a very very important for top level athletic performance! Sleep has the power to relieve fatigue, restore functions, & reduce stress. It is the easiest solution to face stress & fatigue (physical & mental), which is often neglected in face of busy schedules, travel times etc. Restful sleep of 7- 9 hours has been shown to improve athletic performance!

It is essential to incorporate rest in these forms to make your workout fruitful! Rest also is a parameter of exercise & it will show you longer lasting benefits!! Don’t just work hard, work smart & optimal to maximize benefits!!     

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