Rest v. Recovery: What’s the Difference?

By July 30, 2020 No Comments

There are a lot of words we use interchangeably.

Some are grammatically incorrect; like they’re, there, and their. And some we think mean the same thing, but just don’t.

For example: rest and recovery.

It’s kind of like how a square is a rectangle, but a rectangle isn’t a square. Maybe? Let’s be honest, we’re checking to see if you’re paying attention. But back to the point at hand; Rest can aid in recovery, but rest alone doesn’t mean that you’re recovered and ready to tackle your next workout.

The two terms tend to be grouped together and are both necessary; especially when you start working out. Rest and recovery are critical components of any effective training program. They also tend to be the least planned and underutilized ways to enhance performance. You may not be aware there is a difference between rest and recovery or how to properly implement them both, but luckily, you have us. 

Here’s the math: If you train for ten hours per week (which would be lot for most of us), you have 158 non-training hours or 95% of your time left for rest and recovery. Where is all of this “extra” time going? How might it be affecting your workout? Or your life? 

Let’s break it down.

What is Rest? 

Rest is a combination of sleep and time spent not training. How you sleep and spend this time is very critical.

What is Recovery?

Recovery is a bit different, it refers to techniques and actions taken to maximize your body’s repair. These include hydration, nutrition, posture, heat, ice, stretching, self-myofascial release (like foam-rolling), stress management, compression, and even thinking about things like the time spent standing versus sitting versus lying down. Recovery is multifaceted and encompasses more than just muscle repair. Recovery involves chemical and hormonal balance, nervous system repair, mental state, emotional state, and more. 

How much rest and recovery do you need?

A balanced combination of rest and recovery along with proper diet and exercise should be a part of any fitness regimen. Unless you are competing at an elite level, you should follow the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of your time can be spent focusing on diet and exercise or with making choices that help move you towards your health and fitness goals, while twenty percent should be left for enjoying life. 

In other words, don’t let yourself get too wrapped up in perfection.



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