The muscle recovery week: why impose it? What are the benefits?

Whether you are an athlete or simply a regular sportsman, practicing a physical activity several times a week imposes a certain routine that has an impact on our organism as a whole: body and mind. Intense sports practice can lead to mental and physical fatigue. We then talk about overtraining.

Fortunately, taking a week to recover allows you to regain your energy. I suggest you discover the benefits of this recovery period.

Muscle recovery week

© Can Stock Photo / artofphoto

Avoiding overtraining

During the first moments of a sports training program, several factors increase daily: energy level, lean muscle mass and muscle strength. At the same time, fat mass is reduced. However, with the weeks that follow each other, fatigue becomes more present. Training sessions may be less productive and beneficial for the body.

In order to avoid critical fatigue, it is important to consider applying a recovery week. Without this rest period, muscle fatigue is constant, wearing down the body. Training causes too much stress to the body and decreases its ability to recover. It is essential to reduce training gradually and temporarily to avoid falling into an overtraining routine.

What is a recovery week?

Whether you practice sports outdoors or indoors, the repetition of training must be broken up by a week of active recovery. I should point out that there is no such thing as an ideal recovery week. Each organism is different. The recovery period and its organization will depend on each person and their physiological needs.

Thus, for some athletes, a week of muscular recovery will correspond to total rest, without any physical exercise. For others, this period will be characterized by a decrease in the volume and intensity of training.

I would like to make it clear that a recovery week does not mean a total absence of activity. It is not about sitting around watching your streaming series while eating popcorn or chips. That would be totally counterproductive with the efforts made beforehand.

Muscle recovery is an opportunity to listen to your body to recover physically, but also morally from the efforts you have put on your body during the training period. I urge you to keep the same lifestyle while reducing the physical constraints. It is therefore important not to neglect your diet.

The benefits of the recovery week

Regeneration of the body

In an overtraining routine, the athlete has to face much more fatigue and muscular exhaustion. As a result, physical pain can be particularly intense. They are potentially accompanied by psychological fatigue, mood and sleep disorders.

It is therefore essential for the athlete to reduce the volume and intensity of his or her training so that the body enters a regeneration phase. Contrary to what we may think, this recovery phase allows us to gain strength and muscle volume.

Physical assets

Let me reassure you: allowing yourself a week of recovery will not cancel out your gains during the training period. Muscle rest allows you to increase your performance. Getting out of your daily physical training routine is a way for your body to regenerate, but also to develop. Generally, muscle rest beyond 3 weeks leads to a decline in gains.

Psychological gains

A phase of overtraining leads the athlete on a downward slope. There is a risk of no further progress and a decrease in performance. Overtraining and regression go hand in hand. The athlete can then lose self-confidence. It is not uncommon to have a bout of the blues and to give up on physical development.

You understand that it is essential to take a week of recovery to rest your body and mind. Within the framework of physical development, good psychological predispositions are essential.

In sum, the recovery week offers several undeniable benefits:

  • Recovery of the central nervous system;
  • Rest of the psyche;
  • Progressive regeneration of the body;
  • End of exhaustion during training;
  • Prevention of possible injuries;
  • Less intense training routine that allows you to stay connected to your practice;
  • Continuous development of performance.

The recovery phase: decrease in intensity and volume

Decreasing the intensity

Decreasing the intensity of physical effort depends on the individual and the sport. For example, for weight training, one method of recovery is to reduce the amount of weight to be lifted over a week. In the case of running, it is advisable to reduce the distance and/or the pace.

Reducing the intensity is not at all counterproductive. Lifting less weight or running for less time allows your body to enter a recovery phase and continue to develop its skills without the physical and psychological stress of overtraining.

Decrease the volume

You can choose to continue lifting the same weight. However, I recommend that you decrease your training volume. Instead of lifting the same weight over 5 days, lower your routine to 2 days.

The same goes for running. If your routine consists of running 15 kilometers 4 times a week, in the recovery phase, feel free to run that same distance only twice a week.

Alternative exercises

If you are addicted to running, you should still avoid overtraining. It is possible to choose a recovery method that revolves around alternative exercises, with a similar volume and intensity. It is possible to turn to isolation exercises that allow you to focus on a particular muscle area while promoting rest of the central nervous system.

It is still possible to take advantage of this recovery week to try other types of sports such as cycling, swimming, jogging, etc. This way you stay active while allowing your body and mind to recover.

Bottom line

The recovery week should be savored. Don’t put any stress on yourself regarding a possible loss of performance. The goal is to regenerate your body and mind so that you can get back to your training routine in better shape. With your energy levels restored, you will be able to enjoy much more beneficial workouts.