The new year is here and you’re finally out of the haze of the winter vacation, ready to eat healthier, get back to the gym, and shed those pounds that settled in after indulging in large meals and desserts. Being motivated is great, but, if you’re not careful, too much motivation can lead to overworking yourself, increased injury risk and ultimately, you might end up stopping your fitness journey sooner than you planned.
If you want to stay in shape, knowing when to rest and learning how to recover your muscles after intense effort is just as important as doing your exercises correctly, so here’s how you can reach the perfect balance.
Start slow and build your way up to demanding workouts
One of the most common mistakes when getting into fitness (or getting back into it after a long pause) is wanting to achieve too much, too soon. As a result, you overestimate your physical condition and do complex exercises that your body can’t handle just yet or work out in longer sessions than necessary. As it turns out, this is not only dangerous but also ineffective. On the one hand, overtraining puts too much strain on your body can lead to muscle injuries and even more serious conditions (for example, when you’re jogging too fast and reach your maximum heart rate). On the other hand, you’ll feel pumped after finishing that intense workout, but you’ll barely be able to move the next day and chances are you will quit. Even if you’re ecstatic and want to push your limits, take it slowly and start with lighter exercises that don’t overwork your body. If you’ve had a sedentary lifestyle for a while, even making small changes such as taking the stairs, walking to work, or doing a few sit-ups in the morning can make a difference, so don’t feel bad if you can’t do strength training or run 5K right away.
Make sure you get enough sleep
Getting enough sleep is good for your health in general, but more so while you’re on a fitness regimen. When you sleep, your body produces a growth hormone that helps muscle tissues repair themselves after a workout, so don’t deprive yourself of rest while you are trying to lose weight or build muscle. To make your exercises even more efficient and reduce pain, there is also a wide range of top adjustable beds that can literally elevate your sleep experience. The right mattress is also a crucial component of quality sleep too. The last thing you want when working out is to deal with extra back pain caused by an old, rundown mattress.
Another reason why you might want to get at least 7 hours of sleep while you’re working out is that being exhausted constantly affects your performance. According to a Stanford study, athletes who got enough sleep had better endurance, lower heart rate, and more energy to complete their workouts. Besides, lack of sleep may affect your eating patterns so that you wake up very hungry in the morning and you have stronger cravings throughout the day.
The right recovery can boost workout efficiency
Working out properly isn’t just sweating and pushing your limits. It’s about putting in all this effort strategically, combining it with the right diet, and knowing when to stop. To reach your goals, the way to work out and the exercises you do matter, but what you do after you finish training is just as important. Follow these recovery tips to recharge your batteries, help your body recover faster, and get the most out of your fitness routine:
- Drink water and sports drinks to replace lost fluids and restore electrolytes after intense workouts.
- If you’re trying to build muscle, or you’re focusing on endurance exercises, eat protein-rich foods after each session.
- Allow your body to heal after a tough training regimen. Taking one or two days off will give your muscles time to recover, so you can then come back in full force. You don’t have to be completely inactive while you recover though. Going for a walk or taking your bike for a spin works well if you don’t feel comfortable doing nothing.
- Do gentle stretching exercises after workouts.
- Hot baths and massages can help with muscle soreness, release tension, and reduce recovery time.
If you’re not sure how to find the right balance between pushing your limits and knowing when to take time off, don’t hesitate to ask a personal trainer for help or even use an app to follow a guided training program. This way, you don’t risk hurting yourself.