The lack of rest and recovery during workouts and weight training sessions can be the "kryptonite" that cripples even the best of athletes. There are many essential functions that the body performs in the development of strength and power that occur when the body is at rest. These functions cannot take place while the athlete is active; this rebuilding and growing of muscle takes place when the body is in a state of rest.
There are several theories floating around today concerning the relationship between strength, power and rest. Bodybuilders have known from the many years that rest is one of the most important factors that must be included in any workout in order to achieve maximum results. In fact many bodybuilders, when they first begin, fall into the trap of overtraining, and when this happens they do not allow the body time to recover either between sets or from the workout that they performed the previous day. This can have a negative effect on the body and instead of having muscle growth your muscles will just lie dormant and you will not see any increase in strength, size or power.
Tudor Bompa, one of the world's top conditioning and strength experts and trainer of an Olympic champion in the javelin and rowing events has developed several strength training techniques which have been accepted by researchers as viable methods of balancing rest along with strength and power. One of Bompas methods explores the relationship between rest, reps and sets when weight training. His theory states that rest is a crucial training variable that is needed for the development of power and strength through what is known as the maximum load method.
During these types of workouts it is necessary to put the highest amount of tension possible into a muscle when working it. Athletes should focus on those muscles that are the primary movers in their chosen sport; for example a sprinter should focus on working his glutes, hip flexors, hamstrings, quads and calf muscles to the maximum potential during his workouts. This type of workout requires that the reps be kept low and the rest between sets should be long enough so that the athlete is able to give maximum effort when coming back for the next set. This can only be done a for certain amount of time before the body begins to run out of energy. The maximum load method is useful in sports where power is necessary but increased muscle mass is not. Increased muscle mass could lead to the athlete gaining weight which could have a negative affect on their power capabilities. In addition the maximum load method also incorporates the use of fast twitch muscle fibres, which are important for improving sports performance.
Bompa advocates a recovery time of three to six minutes between sets for optimal performance. The maximum load method is very similar to what bodybuilders call the "muscle overload" technique. Bodybuilders contend that in order to stimulate a muscle to grow you have to overload it and their method of doing this is by lifting weights that are much heavier than they are used to. This can be done by using machines or by incorporating the use of a training partner that can "spot" them while they are lifting these heavier weights.
Bodybuilders also have a process of building muscle and staying in optimum physical condition that incorporates recovery as one of its main facets. It is known as the training triangle, and it consists of three components, training, nutrition and recovery. Each one is just as important as the other and if each one is not given one hundred percent effort then the triangle will begin to crumble. We all know that nutrition is one of the most important steps to take when training. By eating the right foods you give your body the necessary nutrients that it needs to replace energy, for cell growth, for repair and other basic metabolic functions.
The weight training aspect of the triangle is about stimulating the muscles for growth. One thing that should be noted is that your muscles do not grow when you are in the gym working out. The other two parts of the triangle take care of that. Weight training your muscles to overload breaks down the muscle tissue to a microscopic level. The body then adapts to this stimulus by getting stronger and growing more muscle tissue and this is where the recovery part of the triangle comes into play.
Recovery is probably the most overlooked step in the training triangle. It is during recovery time that the body rebuilds muscles in response to the overload that we place upon them while we are in the gym. If you do not take the proper time for recovery then your body will not undergo the growth and rebuilding process that is necessary. Additionally if you're not providing your body with the proper nutrition that it requires to rebuild and repair you will not see any increase in muscle mass, strength or power.
Through a proper training program that includes proper rest and recovery times just about anyone can maintain optimal sports performance. The length of time that you take resting between exercises and sets when weight training can have a huge difference on the outcome of a workout and therefore be one of the keys to maintaining top notch condition. The athlete needs to be aware of his own abilities; after training for many years many athletes develop an instinct of knowing when to rest and went to train. You should train yourself to listen to the feedback that your body gives you it will let you know if you need more rest or if you have the green light to go ahead and push into that next set. The recovery portion of your workout program is the key to consistently being able to gain muscle and perform optimally.