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By: Crossfit Winnipeg  09-12-2011

No Rest for the Wicked

By Rich Thomas

Most people now a days recognize the benefits of exercise and physical activity, but there are those who do not understand the theory of adequate rest. And too often those who do, choose to ignore it because they consider it a hindrance to their training goals. Let me assure you that your rest is just as important as your training.

Not only will the lack of rest impact the effectiveness of your training it can also increase your risk of injury as well as wreak havoc on your nervous system, causing adrenal fatigue.

What’s so insidious about adrenal fatigue is that sometimes there is nothing that clearly stands out in regards to your lack of performance, your body just feels “off”, and you feel off your game. You may feel great going into that workout, but your body just doesn’t react the way it is supposed to.

Your adrenal glands secrete hormones such as cortisol when an excess of stress threatens the body. This is what aids in that “rush” you get in intense threatening situations, and what kicks in you through those tough workouts and intense physical activities.

When adrenal fatigue occurs, your adrenal glands have been so overworked that they cannot secrete enough hormones to react to stressors (both physical and mental).  When you are training for prolonged periods without rest, or training at a intense volume level that is too hard for your body, you can end up over stimulating your adrenal glands to the point where they can no longer function properly.

The Remedy: Rest.

Your rest should have variance as well as regiment. Here are a few different ways rest can be applied to your training.

Rest Days – You should incorporate rest days in your weekly training, I suggest you take at least two of them per week. It is not to say that you can’t do ANY exercise on your rest days either. In fact you may benefit from active rest days. Depending on your training program and level, it can be beneficial to do some light, low intensity exercise on your rest day, like a jog, easy swim or a light row. One day however, should be reserved without any exercise at all. (Don’t be afraid to take an extra rest day either. Listen to your body.)

Rest Weeks - If you’ve never taken a planned rest week before it can be a bit nerve racking. A common misconception is that you will lose progress in your training. This is far from the truth. A rest week every few months gives your body the ability to recover as well as feed that fire, and desire to resume training. Adding a 1 or 2 active rest days is not a bad idea either in this situation.

Deload Weeks- A Deload week should occur in a shorter time frame than you would take a rest week (5-6 weeks). Again this will depend on how you are training, the intensity, as well as the volume.

During a Deload week, you want to reduce the volume of your training and in some cases the load.

So you may do the same weight with far less reps, or maybe less weight, while maintaining the rep count. But by no means should you feel exhausted after these workouts, in fact you may feel a bit unfulfilled.

Sleep – Although the most obvious, it is also the most neglected. You should be aiming for 7-8 hours of sleep. Some of us require a bit less, but going to sleep an hour earlier never hurt anyone. Adequate sleep will ensure proper physical and mental function, as well as great recovery. This could be the tipping point in your fatigue, DO NOT ignore this!

The subject of recovery has different aspects, rest is just one of them, you also need to eat properly in order to have adequate recovery but that my friends ….is another discussion.

One last thing, when was the last time you took a scheduled rest?

–Coach Ninja.

PS from Coach Turbo:

Our group programming includes variations in volume and intensity that act as deload weeks or deload days.  If you follow the Beast program, your rest days are scheduled as well.  Sometimes rest weeks aren’t scheduled, they just kind of happen, because of vacations or illness or sometimes, you just know that it’s time to rest, so you rest. 

I know that some of you like to train Monday to Friday and rest on the weekend.  This is not ideal, but if you choose to go that route, I recommend that you take Wednesday as a deload day, and do mobility class, or simply do the WOD at half volume and half intensity. If you think you need to make some adjustments to your training and recovery, don’t hesitate to talk to your coach about this, they are there to help. 

A good indicator that you might be overtraining?  More than 2 workouts in a row where you are “just not feeling it” and aren’t performing as you should for no other reason. 

Also note that adrenal fatigue occurs in several stages, with full blown fatigue being a very serious health condition that will require some help to resolve, along with some major lifestyle changes, so please speak with me if you think you may be going down that road… 

For many people, particularly those suspecting any stage of adrenal fatigue, 7 to 8 hours of sleep may not be enough, and will need to aim for even more.

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