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Train Hard, Rest Easy

Train Hard, Rest Easy

Atomic Pano-2

We talk a lot about pushing our athletes to their physical and mental limits. About training their Mental Fitness to allow them to overcome physical hardships that they would have previously thought impossible. During this process of building our athletes – making them physical and mental monsters – we sometimes tend to neglect something that is just as important as training: getting adequate rest.

When most of our athletes first start they struggle with 2-3 sessions a week. After a while, once their strength and fitness improve, they add a session. The more their fitness improves the more they want to train. As they adapt to even more volume, they get even stronger. Since they are stronger they are training even more under heavier weights and greater volume. Then, inevitably it happens – a nagging injury, or a summer cold that just won’t seem to go away. Instead of getting stronger they start getting weaker. Their workouts drop off and either they completely lose the desire to train or only come in intermittently. You can call it adrenal fatigue, overtraining, overreaching. Or you can call it what it is: under resting.

During each training session your body gets “damaged.” As you rest and recover this damage heals itself and comes back stronger. This pattern informs the principle of Overcompensation – as you damage the tissue, it heals and then it gets stronger. You damage it a little more, it heals, and you get even stronger than that. This is the process that builds fitness.

However it’s simply not enough to just damage the tissue. You must allow it to completely heal. If you don’t get adequate rest after training sessions, your body doesn’t fully heal. If it doesn’t heal this can lead to increasing weakness and deterioration of the body. Without rest this wear and tear on the body will result in training plateaus where you are no longer capable of improving your performance. While this is generally known as overtraining, it is your body’s way of telling you it needs rest. When your body wants rest it will get it. Either through injury or illness it will let you know that if you don’t rest it will make you rest.

If you’re recovering from an injury or illness and you’re training intensely more than 3 times a week you aren’t trying to get better. You are just staying injured as long as you can. You pushed too hard and now your body is stopping you from hurting yourself further. Listen to it. Rest and recover so you can actually get stronger.

We are all guilty of this, me included. I love to train and I get restless when I take too many days off. I fight a constant battle of doing too much and not ever getting the results I want. As a rule I have always trained too hard and rested too little. If this is the case for you then you need to find more active ways to “rest.” Walk, casually ride your bike. Casually swim or hike. These are all low impact ways to allow your body to rest. Even better – go play. Play with your kids, play volleyball. Just play.

Many times I’ve had athletes come to me and talk about how great a training session was, so they added another session and a day of sprints. The next time I talk to them they aren’t having great training sessions. By adding too much random volume they have gone from having three great training sessions a week to one good one, and three shitty ones. Are they getting any more fit by adding a session that they struggle with and affects their training later in the week?

It’s not simply enough to rest. You have to reduce stress as well. Nothing new here: sleep more, eat clean but don’t be crazy, cut down on booze and inflammatory foods, laugh, have sex, play. Cut out drama and toxic friends. Less Facebook, more Book.

Curious about not only becoming stronger and faster but also feeling better? We program deload and rest days to help you get there in our Hybrid Programming, available here.

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