Haley Shaw is a wellness specialist and public speaker for her company, Amp Up Fitness.
Do you remember the last time you took your rest day seriously? I’m talking six to eight hours of sleep and active recovery days, including a yoga/stretch session or meditation. Or even a full rest day from work and working out. For myself, I can openly admit I am a “work-in-progress” when it comes to taking full rest days. Especially with the holidays in full swing, my schedule goes completely out of whack.
Let’s review the components of getting fit and strong. First, we need to train hard enough to temporarily and slightly exceed our body’s capacity. Only with intense training does the body grow stronger. Secondly, the training itself doesn’t make the magic. The rest between training periods is what actually improves our fitness.
Only while we rest can our bodies adapt to compensate for the stress we’ve put our bodies through. In other words, recovery. Recovery is what enables fitness and strength. Thus, training and rest-recovery periods are complementary. You need both. The better your recovery, the more frequently and more intensely you can train.
When we ignore our need for rest and recovery, we run the risk of overtraining. Overtraining occurs when training exceeds the body’s recovery capacity. Overtraining can be indicated by excessive fatigue (both physical and mental) resulting in impaired performance. Overtraining may lead to a serious loss of strength, increased joint and muscle pain, changes in mood and hormonal suppression.
How to Recover from Overtraining
Step 1: Pay Attention
Awareness is the first step in targeting the above issues. Consider tracking how you feel throughout the day — even a few notes in the margin of your food and nutrition log will help you see common trends in your mood or energy levels.
Step 2: Take a Break
If you’re exhausted and cannot bring yourself to work out, consider taking it easy for a few days.
Build a bedtime routine, aiming to go to bed no later than 10:00 p.m. (or a time that works best for you) throughout the week. Take an extra day off from the gym.
Step 3: Eat More Carbohydrates and Protein
Persistently feeling weak? It might be time to increase your calorie intake, particularly before or after an exercise session. If your diet is lower in carbohydrates, it could be time to reintroduce them. Even if you’re trying to lose weight, your body needs carbohydrates—good carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, potatoes, rice, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Fuel up before and after your workout with a carbohydrate- and protein-rich meal or snack. These are the ideal times to eat your carbohydrates and protein to keep you fueled for your workout and replenish your glycogen storage to boost recovery.
We recommend adding Vital Proteins Collagen Whey, which includes these macronutrients, to your post-workout shake in an attempt to help aid recovery.
Step 4: Prioritize Your Recovery
Engage in activities such as yoga, sauna sessions, meditation and massages. Even very low-intensity cycling, walking or hiking will do. Make recovery a priority in order to sustain long-term health and performance.
Step 5: Get Help If You Need It
If you get no results from following the above steps and tips to prevent overtraining, make an appointment with your healthcare provider. Fatigue, pain and weakness can signal a more serious health problem.
Step 6: Finally: Eat, Move and Live Better
Take a day or two off a week to recover and reassess. Book a massage on a regular basis, go for a walk with the family or just sit completely still for as little (or as long) as you would like. I promise, if you take this time you will show up feeling more present for the activities you have planned.