When To Push (And When To Rest) For Better Athletic Performance

When To Push (And When To Rest) For Better Athletic Performance

Achieving athletic goals requires exercise that forces your body to overcome it’s current abilities. Muscles come from our bodies ability to heal and repair damage done from overloading them. It is the combination of stress and recovery that creates physical strength. If you don’t include time for your muscles to heal, you are actually limiting your potential capacity. Therefor, you will make faster progress if you plan for rest days.

Your brain is a muscle too. Pilates requires mental focus, and a rest day is not just for your body but also to rest your brain. On your rest days you can take a total day off, or you can plan for a recovery workout. A recovery workout is less demanding, less intense, less complicated, but it gets the circulation moving and clears the toxins locked in tight or sore muscles.

To gain in strength you need a solid baseline of general physical conditioning, and if you have injuries or chronic pain you will need more time. In our studio we created a beginner friendly class called “Apparatus Fundamentals”. This class features the basic Pilates Reformer and Mat sequences for building a solid foundation of athletic conditioning. For those who come to more advanced classes frequently, the Fundamentals class is the place to take an active rest day and refine their technique.

You are not an android

We live in a driven society where there is constant pressure to be high-achievers at all times. Current Pew Research shows this anxiety is dramatically increased among Millennials who have been raised under unprecedented social pressure to literally perform constantly (via social media).  

With this prevailing attitude, taking rest days can be hard to accept when you are trying to ramp up your results. If this is you - try to keep in mind that the need to rest has a scientific basis.

“Above All Else, Learn to Breathe Correctly” - Joe Pilates

Learning how to listen to your body is part of the Pilates principles: Breath, Concentration, Centering, and Control all have to do with using breath control to master your mind. The other two are Precision and Rhythmic movement. If you are moving within your breath capacity, you are less likely to strain for your goals.

During your peak season you may use Pilates more for recovery and focused training (a weaker side, upper body, lower body, and/or flexibility). During the off-season you will want to push harder in the studio, and add weight training and/or extra cardio to your strategy.

If you are think you are overtraining talk to your teachers, they will help you structure your regimen so that you get the recovery you need to stay on track.

Working with a dedicated teacher

Social trust is taking a beating these days, however finding a dedicated teacher you can trust will help you reach your goals as they change over time. The studio is a safe place to put aside the troubles and thrills in your life and focus entirely on taking care of your body and mind.

As a personal trainer I have had the honor of working continuously with some of my clients for over a decade. In that time I have seen how deeply people's bodies are affected by what is going on in their head. Job stress, change, relationships, homelife, mental health, injuries and recovery, changing goals, fluctuating drive, pregnancy, and of course the aging process and menopause all take their due.

When you work closely with a Pilates teacher we will be able to give you informed, specific training. Your head may want to push when your body is saying “rest”, or you may feel mentally tired but your body indicates that your muscles crave a challenge. The more you work with your teacher, the better we will get at reading your signals and providing you the coaching that gives you what you need.