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The Importance of Rest and Recovery in Fitness and Martial Arts

Many people think that athletic training is all about activity. They assume that the only way to progress in fitness is by doing more workouts or sessions at the dojang. While having an established training regimen is important for progress, allowing time for the body to rest and recover is critical for your overall fitness.

Recovery is Key to Muscle Growth

When you challenge your body through strength or resistance training, you create small tears in the muscle fibers. This is part of the reason that your body is sore for a day or two after a productive workout. Having an appropriate amount of rest allows the body to heal, leading to muscle growth. If you do not rest the muscles, you increase the risk of a more significant tear to the muscle that will take even longer to heal. The post-workout diet is also important for muscle growth. Repairing the micro-tears requires a good amount of protein.

Know When to Rest

Rest is also important when it comes to workout safety. Extended workouts raise your body temperature, and this effect is even stronger if you are exercising outside on a hot day. You should know the signs of heat illness, such as dizziness, pale skin, fainting, and confusion. If you or a workout partner experience these symptoms, it is time to stop exercising and find a place to cool down. If your internal temperature reaches 106 degrees, it can lead to a coma, brain damage, or death. Before you start your workout, make sure you are properly hydrated and have a supply of water nearby.

Rest Allows Neural Connections to Form

Martial arts training is not just about strength and speed. It also requires coordination and balance. One of the main reasons we focus so much on forms is because they are the best way to tie your muscles to your mind, bringing your whole body under your conscious control. To learn a new form properly (or anything else that takes muscle memory), a period of rest is necessary. It is not unusual that someone will try a new form and walk away frustrated by his or her lack of ability. Yet, when he or she tries the next time, that individual is much better. New neural pathways have formed that improve the student’s coordination. The new move or form makes sense in a different way. Without a proper time of rest, the student will continue to be frustrated by the lack of progress.

Ignoring the need for rest and recovery can keep you from achieving your workout goals. You need rest to keep your workouts safe and productive. You need to rest for physical and mental growth. Rest and recovery are an essential part of your fitness routine.

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