Making the most of limited training time

RestI have said this before I am sure, but this blog was born out of a conversations recently had with an athlete. Balance, training wisely and REST are the key to success.

Often amateur athletes think that volume is the way forwards and consider it a failure on their part unless they are out there training for many hours. This is not always the key to success.

Rest is also equally important, as this is the time when our bodies repair themselves.

Rest Prevents Injury – It’s common sense that resting is beneficial for injury reduction, but why? Well for starters, rest days prevent overuse. That extends from running to lifting and even walking. If you’re a regular runner, you know how much your legs and feet can take until you just need a day off. If you push it too hard without a break, your muscles and joints suffer from overuse and that’s where injuries can happen.

Your Muscles Need Rest – This is likely the first thing you learned about strength training. When you lift weights, you’re essentially tearing muscle fibers. But without a proper period of rest for your immune system to repair and grow the muscle, you’re not going to get the benefit of your training. That’s why you need to vary the muscle groups you engage on staggered days.

Your Performance Won’t Dip – In general, it takes your body almost two weeks of non-activity before you start losing a noticeable amount of your progress or performance level. So don’t think that taking a day or two off from training will set you back all that hard work you’ve put in.

Over-training Affects Sleep – Is your sleep data all over the place? Over-training could be the culprit. Too much exercise can put your body in a constant state of restlessness or on high alert making a good night’s sleep tough to achieve. A telltale sign is an increase in your resting heart rate. Taking those rest day can help bring down your alertness and heart rate, which can help get you a night of sound sleep.

Your Immune System Can Overheat – During periods of heavy activity, our immune systems are constantly activating to repair muscles and joints. Without proper rest, your immune system can’t catch up to all the repairs your body needs. And then? You guessed it: injuries.

Mental Edge – From a psychological standpoint, taking a rest period can rekindle your hunger for exercise and help prevent burnout. Mental fatigue can be every bit as detrimental as physical fatigue and taking a rest day helps to recharge the psyche.

Train Wisely

So how do you train for best effect when time is limited? Hard intervals is the key. Stress the body with high intensity intervals over a shorter period, which will increase VO2, lactic threshold and burn more calories.

Hill reps and sprint training are kinda similar, hill reps replicate the intensity of sprinting, without the high end speed and stress to the body. So if you have a good hill and aren’t keen on track sprinting, use the hill and walk / jog down for recovery. To increase the intensity of the session, shorten the recovery you give yourself.

There is some research to support the idea that interval training is better for fat burning than long slow miles, if you have a time shortage factor.

It’s not always about training long, it’s about training smart.

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