You’ve been going hard at it all week, training like there’s no tomorrow, feeling like you’ve got this and you’re just… Not. Going. To. Stop.

Wrong! This may come as a surprise but rest and recovery are the single most important part of any training or exercise program. Some would even say they’re the most underutilised way to enhance your performance.

Why? Because whether you’re a novice or an elite athlete, taking regular breaks allows your body to recover, repair and strengthen and is necessary for muscle repair and preventing fatigue, both physical and mental.

In fact, studies show that if you get your rate of recovery right, higher training volumes and intensities are possible without the damaging effects of overtraining.

So if, like us, you’re continually looking for the edge, here’s how recovery will allow you to attain new goals and PBs.

First, a bit more about recovery

During exercise you use your body’s energy stores (primarily carbohydrates, but also fats) and fluids (in producing sweat). Recovery gives the body time to replenish these stores.

Workouts also put stress on your body. You fatigue your muscles when you work out which means you’re causing microscopic damage to muscles cells.

These tiny tears help your muscles grow stronger as they heal post workout but you need to give your body time for these good changes to happen before you start stressing it again.

INC Intraworkout Plus is specially formulated to provide you with the extra support you need during training, providing vital fuel to muscles to prevent breakdown and replacing lost electrolytes. Powered by 7 grams of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) per serve, clinically proven to support muscle recovery and repair. (BCAA’s account for around one third of all amino acids in muscle protein.)

The three stages of recovery

It helps if you think of recovery in three different categories:

Immediate recovery —the most common form of recovery, this happens in the short time between successive efforts as you train (so, between repetitions for example).

Short term recovery — that period between interval or weight training sets. Can include low intensity exercise after working out and during the cool down phase.

Long term recovery — the time between workouts or competitions. This come can stretch to days or even weeks depending on the type of training you’re involved in.

Ways to help your body heal

Workout recovery doesn’t just mean lying on the couch (although that can definitely play a part too). Here are three top tips to improve your rest and recovery:

1. Sleep. One of the most important ways to help your body recover quickly from the physical and mental demands of training. During sleep your body produces the

majority of the growth factors and hormones that aid in daily muscle repair and recovery. Give your sleep habits an audit and try for seven to nine hours a night. The Sleep Health Foundation has some great tips on getting a good night’s sleep.

2. Nutrition. Food helps restore the body’s energy supply and will provide you with the building blocks needed to repair muscles and promote recovery. Make sure your protein intake is adequate to support muscle repair and include complex carbs as well as lots of vegetables and fruit. INC 100% Dynamic Whey and INC Plant Protein are advanced protein sources and ideal for muscle repair and recovery.

3. Hydration. One of most important aspects of training and recovery is proper hydration. Exercise, as we all know, is thirsty work! You lose fluid during exercise because you sweat and breathe heavily, so replenishing lost water and electrolytes should be top of mind after you’ve finished your workout. Muscles must also be well hydrated to rebuild themselves

How often should you rest?

In terms of longer term recovery, that depends on a whole lot of factors. Things like training intensity, whether you’ve been doing full body workouts or split workouts, your training cycle and any lifestyle stressors outside your workout routine.

Just remember, when you’re challenging your body to run faster or longer, or to lift a heavier weight, it’s during the rest time you’re able to adapt and improve.

Your body is incredible, so tune in to how it feels before, during and after your workouts and be conscious of any cues it’s giving you. Look after it and give it the rest and recovery it needs and you’ll be rewarded with a physical performance you can be proud of.

At INC, an Australian-owned company, we understand the link between training and nutrition to achieve your optimal fitness goals and it’s our mission to make the highest quality sports supplements available to all.