Swimming, biking and running. Anyone doing triathlons knows about these three disciplines. Ask a tri-athlete about their workouts and you going hear about the many hours spent in the pool, countless miles on the bike and the fact they have run the trail so many times they can almost do it with their eyes closed. You will hear how they follow their training plan to almost perfection and have guilt for days if they are forced to miss a workout. They know that to get better, you must train at each discipline and put their bodies through many vigorous workouts. They even figure out that nutrition is extremely important to their performance and they will study and experiment until they find the exact plan that works for them. The one discipline that tri-athletes sometimes forget about, which is unfortunate because it is just as important to their performance, is Rest.
For an athlete to reach the peak levels of their performance, they will need to discover a balance between training and rest. Rest is physically necessary so that the muscles can repair, rebuild and strengthen. Without the proper rest your body does not have enough time to recover and you will not be able to perform at your top ability. If you continue to train without rest you body can actually start to break down and you will become weaker, your performance will suffer, and you could even get injured. Allocating rest in your training program gives your body a chance to adapt to the stress of exercise, repair muscle damage, and allows your body time to replenish fluid and nutrients lost during the workout. The training doesn’t making you stronger, rest does!
A huge part of rest is sleep. There are many studies that show that Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is produced naturally during the later stages of night sleep. If you reduce sleeping time to five or six hours instead of eight or nine you are cheating your body out of a natural performance enhancer. HGH is the body natural way of fighting the aging process and helps repair damage cells. It also helps in lowing body fat, increasing muscle mass, bone density, improved immune system all the while increasing your energy levels. Sleeping eight hours a night should be a requirement for every athlete.
The next time you’re looking at your training plan and you see a rest day, don’t think of it as a wasted day, think of it as a workout where you don’t do anything. If you take a rest day each week and get eight hours of sleep a night, you should always be at the top of your game.