Most people understand that exercise is a healthy activity to consistently engage in. Incorporating intense exercise days into your routine adds even more benefit as long as proper recovery is facilitated between these workouts. For this reason, there should be variety between bouts of intense and moderate/light exercise.
However, in many situations this is not enough to facilitate optimal recovery between strenuous workouts. There are signs that this may be occurring. You may feel more tired, worn down or less motivated to exercise. Perhaps your muscle soreness may be lasting longer than usual or your performance in the gym is regressing. These are just a few signs that your recovery could use some improvement.
You can start by incorporating a “de-load” period of just a few days or a week. During this time period, you will only perform light workouts that emphasize proper movement with minimal loads on the body. This is extremely beneficial after 3-4 weeks of continuous intense exercise.
Next, it is important to determine if your recovery is being limited from factors outside of the gym. The body processes stress cumulatively. Physical stress, emotional stress, stress from work, etc. All of these stressors accumulate in the body. The more these stressors accumulate, the more focus needs to be placed on recovery.
The body will not recovery as quickly from an intense workout when there is also a great deal of stress at work or at home. During these times, it is best to incorporate an extra recovery day into training, decrease training intensity or incorporate other recovery strategies.
Implement a relaxing walk outdoors into your workday if increased stress can be attributed to work. Learn to meditate for 5-10 minutes a day or simply ensure that you are getting to bed earlier.
Analyzing your workouts as well as the stressors in your life can help you decide if you need to incorporate strategies to help you recover better. This will ultimately improve your performance in the gym and your overall health.