One of the great paradoxes of working out is the thought that we improve whilst we are training. Whilst training provides the stimulus for an adaptation to take place it’s when we rest that we reap the true benefits of our training program.
When we train we break down the muscles in the body and also cause a stress response in the brain. Though we may enjoy training, as far as our brain and central nervous system is concerned when we put ourselves through the physical stresses of training we are putting ourselves in a stressed state. An elevated heart rate and the breakdown of muscle tissue for our ancient human ancestors could have signalled a fight or an escape from some sort of predator and our modern brain still responds accordingly releasing cortisol (a stress hormone) to cope with the situation. On top of the release of cortisol (which, chronically can actually cause weight gain, rather than aid in it’s loss) during training we cause thousands of micro tears in our muscles. Tears that during rest are rebuilt. The reduction of cortisol and the rebuilding of our stressed muscles can only occur during rest. Ask any elite athlete and they’ll tell you how important their recovery is to their improvement.
Training all day everyday may seem like a smart way to get better quicker but at some point you will burn out, stop improving and maybe even find yourself going backwards. This is called “overtraining”. Some signs that you may be overtraining include, difficulty sleeping or constant lethargy, sudden rapid weight gain and moodiness and irritability.
If you’re feeling any of those things come on suddenly, consider taking some time off from your training.