R and R, how to incorporate it into your exercise program?

Rest and Recovery are generic terms meaning a return to a “state of readiness”. Recovery will provide a replenishment of nutrients and energy stores. In the last article you learned about the importance of long-term rest and recovery. That included sleep and a day off from strenuous exercise about once a week. So long-term recovery is the between workouts, and short-term recovery is related to rest during your workout. Okay, this can get a bit tricky so stay with me here. There are two ways we will look at short-term recovery: 1) interval training during cardiovascular exercise and 2) rest while strength training.  I am going to skip the strength training topic and go into interval training and why you want to incorporate this into your exercise routine.

Interval training during cardiovascular exercise will take you to the next level of fitness. Adding intervals to your workout is also a great way to cross train. (A topic we will cover more at another time).

If you have been consistent (I mean consistent on your cardio program), and have a base of about 4 to 6 weeks then you are ready to start interval training. You lucky dog!   It’s not rocket science so don’t let this concept scare you! Interval training is simply alternating bursts of more intense activity with… you guessed it, rest and recovery! The deal with interval training is really great, (you can tell I live an exciting life). It will make your workouts more interesting, it’s a fat burner, helps prevent injuries, uses more calories, makes you fitter and its free. What a deal!

I’d like to explain the nitty gritty of what’s going on physiologically. I think the more you understand your body’s physics the easier it is to do the work outs, and better than that the more exciting and inspirational it is. I have a philosophy that “with knowledge comes motivation.” I have always trained myself and others in this manner.  With understanding why it is you are putting your body through this “torture” you are more likely going to stick to it.

Interval training defined:  Interval training works the aerobic (with oxygen) and the anaerobic (without oxygen) system. These two systems use different fuel sources to work. During high intensity efforts the body burns glycogen which is stored in muscles.  The by-product is lactic acid which is that stuff that burns and makes you make funny faces while training. That is called oxygen debt. During the R and R phase of the interval your heart and lungs work to pay back this debt and clean out the lactic acid. And then you do it again and again until its time to go home and brag to your friends and loved ones about what a great workout you had!

This respective form of training leads to the something we call “adaptation response”. See all the cool stuff you are learning today. The body starts to build new road ways to the muscles. These road ways are called capillaries. With new capillaries you are better able to take in and deliver oxygen to the working muscles. The muscles then respond by having higher tolerance to the lactic acid. We call that “lactic acid tolerance”. The heart muscle gets stronger and the whole cardiovascular system is improved and better than that you feel good even when you are doing intervals.

Apply interval training to just about any movement you like, walking, jogging, swimming, and elliptical, rowing and roller skates.

w   Set some attainable goals before the workout.

w   Warm up

w   Stay steady and consistent

w   Be sure to get to full recovery during the rest interval (this is a very important part of the picture).

w   The way to improve is to build intensity (higher heart rate) and duration, but not in the same workout.

Here are a few examples that I like:

  1. Short bursts. 15 to 30 seconds going as hard as you can. 1 to 2 minute recovery.
  2. Sustains. 3 to 6 minutes holding a steady but anaerobic pace. 3 to 5 minute recovery.
  3. Pyramids: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 minute intervals with appropriate recovery and then back down.

Its fun to mix it up and add intervals to your workouts a couple of times per week. Remember to set goals within your reach and let the adaptation do its work and trust that it will work and you will get fitter.

The key is being consistent and trying to incorporate some fitness in your day every day. I promise you, you will see and feel the results.

Yours in good health- Janice