Rest Days: Why Rest is an Important Part of Training

Successful training in any physical endeavor requires putting in hard work and then resting. Many people fail to realize that your body’s actually breaking down muscle while working out; rest, sleep and nutrition are what help you build muscle that is stronger than before. This rest period is even more important when the physical acclimation of your muscles and bone structure is combined with learning a specific move or skill.

In martial arts, we train physically to become stronger, sharper and faster, but we’re also learning forms, perfecting our range of motion on a specific strike, or learning the angles to effectively deepen a submission. Your muscle memory needs time to learn and your body needs time to recover. Once you go past the point of your body’s ability to recover, you may burn out from overtraining. This can wreak havoc on your body and even your day-to-day life. Here is a look at why rest is such an important part of martial arts training.


Feel the Burn

Feeling the burn during a workout is great but feeling burnout should be avoided at all costs. When you perform excessive amounts of exercise without proper rest and recovery, burnout can feel like a really bad flu . “Decreased performance, fatigue, altered hormonal states, poor sleeping patterns, reproductive disorders, decreased immunity, loss of appetite, and mood swings” can occur, along with an increased chance of injuries .

For most non-competitive martial artists, the risk of overtraining shouldn’t be very high. Most martial arts instructors should understand how much training is too much and will help prevent a student from reaching that stage . That being said, certain schools may push a higher volume of training, to earn more revenue, or a student may become obsessed with their chosen martial art and insist on taking on too many classes. Young athletes who participate in multiple physical activities can also run the risk of overtraining, due to the constant physical exercise they endure on top of their schooling.

Elite martial artists – or any martial artist that is training vigorously more than three times a week – should keep a journal that details their training sessions, nutrition, sleep, and how they felt throughout the day. Everyone’s body is different; listening to and working with how your body reacts to training will help you find what works best for you.


Physical Recovery

The adequate amount of time needed to recover from the physical aspects of training will range, depending on the intensity of the training, its duration, your age, your lifestyle, and your level of fuel and recovery. Your muscles may not need much rest, after a meditation class or even some forms classes, but some sparring classes may require two days to fully recover from. The quality of sleep you get and the amount of nutrient-rich food you eat will also make a difference.

It’s important to remember that, due to the sheer number of various factors involved, creating a training journal or keeping track of how you feel on a day-to-day basis will be your best guide. For some, getting a good night's rest may be enough to train on. For others, they may need several days of recovery, depending on what their training schedule entails.


Time and Memory

Your brain needs time to process new knowledge. Constant practice and repetition over time will help you retain learning more effectively , in the long run. It’s the same reason why cramming before a test is not an effective way of approaching school.

Sleep also has a big impact on learning and memory. A study by Harvard Medical School found that a full night’s sleep within 30 hours of training is a necessity for improved performance. Some studies have shown that studying something closer to your bedtime can help you learn easier, as well.

Martial arts school owners should consider all of these factors, when creating a class schedule for your school. Check out our past blog, to see the importance of a good weekly class schedule .

Have you ever felt burnt out from overtraining? How did you deal with it and how do you prevent it? Let us know on our Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Google+ , to stay up to date with all of your ChampionsWay news.