Sifu Rebecca Knapp, Waterloo Kung-Fu Academy

By Sifu Rebecca Knapp

Adult Student’s Corner

“Take rest; the field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.” – Ovid

I’ve noticed that WKFA, like many other martial arts clubs, seems to attract people of a certain nature: driven, committed, goal-oriented – and sometimes reluctant to give themselves a break. Ambitious people sometimes feel like they can’t stop, that it will hinder their progress and allude to weakness or failure. The problem is that when it comes to training, regular breaks are the very thing your body needs to continue to progress, and more importantly, prevent injury, sickness, and burnout.

Rest has many benefits for any fitness regime – some of these are listed below:

  1. Aids Recovery: One or two days off per week is required to allow bone, muscle, tendons and ligaments the time to recover and repair themselves. Muscle growth occurs during rest periods, not during exercise. Rest periods also allow your body to replenish much needed glycogen stores.
  2. Helps to prevent injury: Rest days prevent overuse. Using any muscle or joint over and over again will eventually wear it down and the overuse can lead to injury or permanent damage.
  3. Keeps your immune response in check and working properly: During periods of heavy activity, our immune systems are constantly activating to repair muscles and joints. Without proper rest, your immune system can’t catch up to all the repairs your body needs. As a result it can become compromised, making you more susceptible to colds, flus, and other ailments.
  4. Helps you sleep: Getting adequate sleep allows the mind to repair itself and develop new connections, which, as we know, is highly useful when learning new skills. Overtraining can actually cause significant sleep disruptions – training too often can put your body in a constant state of restlessness or high alert, which impairs your ability to fall into the deep, restorative sleep we all need to feel rested and recharged.
  5. Lowers stress: Rest decreases abnormal levels of cortisol – the stress hormone. This helps to maintain alertness, productivity and general health.
  6. More energy throughout the day: Adequate rest helps you avoid energy slumps during the day, ensuring workouts are more effective and efficient. When you become physically or mentally worn out, your energy levels fluctuate and you become prone to periods of exhaustion.
  7. Boosts brain function: Finally, rest allows for better concentration and focus…and from a psychological standpoint, taking a rest period can help to prevent burnout and keep you excited about getting back to training. Mental fatigue can be every bit as detrimental as physical fatigue, as I’m sure anyone who has trained for a grading knows well!

So what can you do to get your mind set on rest? For starters, you’re going to have to make the mental adjustment to understanding and believing that you can take days off, and that it’s actually helpful to your training. Then, just as you set your training goals, set your rest goals too and develop a schedule to let your body recover.