Many of us believe that in order for a workout to be effective that it has to be challenging, intense, and make us sweat. But there is another side of fitness that helps you increase strength, prevent injury, and improve your overall wellness. I’m referring to restorative exercise, which is quite often an overlooked, but quite necessary aspect of fitness that will take your fitness to the next level – especially if you’re not already doing it. Not to mention, it will make your workouts and your overall fitness endeavors a whole lot more enjoyable.
In this blog, I cover:
- Issues of Not Doing Enough Restorative Exercise
- Solutions: How to Incorporate Restorative Fitness Into Your Routine
- MFY Solutions: Ways We Help
Issues of Not Doing Enough Restorative Exercise
- Overtraining. Overtraining happens when we’re doing too much or not spending enough time on recovery. This could mean one or more of the following: too much exercise, not enough sleep, inadequate nutrition, or not enough recovery work.
- Higher risk of injury. If your muscles are always tired, you’re at a higher risk of injury. When your muscles aren’t fully recovered, you have a greater chance of straining or tearing the muscle. This can also place additional stress on the joints or the agonist (helping) muscle groups, which can lead to tendon strains and other joint issues.
- Minimizing gains / restricting performance. If you aren’t fully recovering, you’re not building optimal strength. Working out is calculated stress on your muscles; strength training causes microtears in muscle fibers, and this is what starts the muscle growth process. The recovery is when you actually get stronger. If you don’t give your muscles enough time to recover, then you’re minimizing their potential strength. (It’s like constantly removing something from the charger before it’s been able to recharge 100%. Sure, it’s still going to work, but it could be stronger if you let it recharge all the way!)
- Feeling constantly sore. If you’re not doing enough recovery work, you’re going to feel sore and achy throughout the day. In addition to negatively impacting your workouts, heightening your risk of injury, and damaging your sleep, this is simply an unpleasant way to go through life. Being really sore when you start a new workout program or after a particularly difficult workout every now and then is fine, but being constantly sore on a daily basis is a sign that you’re probably doing too much. Take your foot off the gas!
- Poor sleep. Poor sleep occurs for a number of reasons, but in terms of our exercise it can be caused by an overactive sympathetic nervous system. This means that we’re spending too much time in “fight or flight” mode. This prevents your body from relaxing, and can lead to sleep issues, which will greatly hinder your fitness progress, both in terms of muscular growth and your body’s ability to learn new movements.
- Hormonal issues. We use testosterone to push us through intense exercise, but we also need calm and restoration in order to replenish testosterone stores. If you spend too much time in fight or flight mode, and don’t do enough to relax and restore, you will lower your testosterone levels on a long-term basis – which leads to less muscle growth, poor sleep, lowered concentration, and increased anxiety.
Solutions: How to Incorporate Restorative Fitness Into Your Routine
- Change your mindset regarding exercise intensity & effectiveness. The first thing to do is change your mindset of what makes a workout effective. Not all of your workouts should be intense. If all your fitness activities are high-impact, balls-to-the-wall workouts, then you’re doing it wrong. Adding restorative stretching helps you grow stronger more quickly, allows you to get back to your workouts with more energy in less time, and helps to prevent injury – just to name some of the benefits. Not to mention, it also makes you better at your more intense workouts.
- Be more aware of your body’s immediate needs. Most people don’t push themselves enough when it comes to improving their fitness; but on the other hand, there are those that push themselves TOO much. If you’re one of these people, you think that what you need is another challenging workout, when a lot of the time a deep stretching session or a restorative yoga session would be much more beneficial. It takes 5-7 days for your muscles to completely recover from your workouts – even more if you had a particularly challenging workout. (Note: You almost certainly are pushing yourself too hard if you are still sore 7 days or more after a workout.) Develop your intuition of what your body needs in the present, and you’ll be much stronger in the long run.
- Do restorative exercises that complement your fitness activities. You probably don’t have time for 30 minutes of restorative stretching every night, so it’s important to figure out which restorative exercises are most appropriate for you. The stretches for a weight lifter are different for a runner. A weightlifter should be sure to stretch whatever muscles he or she used in his previous workout, while a runner should focus on stretches to anticipate and prevent discomfort or stiffness in the knees, ankles, and lower-back. Understanding which stretches are most appropriate for you is a combination of trial and error (based on your body’s specific strengths and weaknesses) as well as following restorative routines made to complement your fitness activities.
- Quick mobility work in the evenings -> improve sleep & speed up recovery. You don’t need a full hour to work on your fitness. Spending 5-10 minutes here and there can provide a huge boost to your recovery, and even helps to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, thereby improving your sleep and speeding up your recovery. Restorative mobility work relieves tension in your muscles, allowing them to recover more quickly and get back to your fitness with less soreness.
MFY Solutions: Ways We Help
- The Burnout Program. This program was developed specifically for the guy who has been training for an extended period of time, and understands that it’s time to focus on recovery. This program is a deloading program that helps your body to fully recover, allowing you to reap the full benefits of your time spent working out – and learn some Man Flow Yoga while you’re at it. 20-30 minutes per day, 3-6 days per week. You can Find it in the Members’ Area.
- Flexibility, Mobility, & Joint Health for Inflexible Beginners This program is for the person who has neglected restorative and recovery work, but isn’t quite at the point where he needs to stop his other workouts. Combine this program with your existing training program to focus on flexibility and restorative work. Alternate with your other workouts. 30-40 minutes per day, minimum 3 days per week.