Rest and Recuperation
Working out efficiently isn't just about pushing yourself to your limits, it also requires knowing when to step back and take a break. A smart training plain incorporates adequate rest time to allow your muscles to recover and rebuild.
Sleep On It
After a particularly strenuous workout, make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to stretch, rehydrate, and then get adequate sleep that night. Sleep isn't just for dreaming; this important body function allows the microtears in your muscle fibers to rebuild and grow stronger. Without plenty of sleep and time for this healing process, you run the risk of damaging your muscles by putting strain on them before they've had a chance to get stronger. To ensure a good night's sleep, abstain from alcohol or caffeine for several hours before bedtime, and try to turn your attention away from the stimulation of electronic screens. Unwind with a book or a magazine, or just some quiet meditation and you should be able to fall into restful sleep just minutes from hitting the sheets.
Cool Cross Training
On your "off" days, you may be tempted to squeeze in another quick run or lifting session. Resist the urge, but realize that you can stay active while still letting your body recover. Try gentle, low-impact activities like hatha yoga, a leisurely walk, or even a few laps in the pool. The movement will keep the lactic acid from building up in your muscles to prevent soreness, but will still give your body the rest and recuperation it craves.
When you're working out hard, your body deserves a little extra attention to keep yourself feeling strong, healthy, and motivated. On your rest days, consider indulging in a warm bath stocked full of epsom salts which can help soothe aching muscles. Be sure to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration, and be careful about exposing swollen joints to hot water for too long. Another great tip for effective rest and recuperation is a session with a professional masseuse. Your body will thank you for taking the time to work out those kinks and knots the next time you hit your training regimen.