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Why taking a break from the gym could help you achieve your goals

People are often surprised when I tell them I don't do much (or any) exercise when I'm on holidays. Taking a week or two off from training is for a couple of reasons. Psychologically I feel as though I need a rest from the 'gym' environment. I don't want to think about how many squats I need to do or count reps when I could be sitting on the beach reading a book. Physically, I find that after taking a good solid week off training (minus a walk or swim here and there), I actually come back feeling even stronger! So what happens to your body when you rest and how much recovery do you really need?

Exercise, in particular strength training causes tissue damage (in a good way) and energy depletion so it's the time between training sessions that our bodies repair, rebuild and prepare for the next session. If your don't allow time for rebuilding and repairing, your body will continue to break down and this can be counterproductive for gaining strength and for longevity. In the short term, we need recovery between training sessions to refuel our body (with food, sleep and stretching etc), rehydrate, eliminate the body of waste that builds up during exercise (such as lactic acid) and allow our muscles to regenerate.

In the long term, exercise prescription should include rest and recovery plus a mixture of higher and lower intensities throughout the year. If you've ever trained for an event such as a marathon or sports competition, you'll know that it involves rest days and weeks and then finally a taper leading up to the event. This is to make sure you don't overload your muscles to allow for proper recovery and to avoid injury.

Recovery has to fit accordingly to your exercise routine so if you're doing 3 low intensity cardio sessions a week for example, you're going to need a lot less recovery than someone who is lifting heavy weights 5 times a week. Listening to your body is the key to not burning out. If you have been over-training, you may start to feel fatigued, unmotivated and as though you can't perform to the best of your ability. If you're having too much recovery between sessions, then you won't see the same results or strength gains as someone who exercises more regularly. If you're unsure of how much training and recovery is right for you, shoot me a message and we can talk through what you're currently doing and how we can make small changes to improve your results. If you take time out of your busy day to get to the gym but you aren't seeing the results you want then it may be changing the frequency or intensity of your training that could make all the difference.

I exercise to feel good and to be healthy BUT I always like to make sure I'm maximising my time in the gym because our time is precious after all.

Here's to a Happy and Healthy you!

Alyssa x

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