The Recovery Day: Take a Break for your Muscle’s Sake

I recently took space in this very blog to encourage all of you in Koko Nation to get on a 3 day-a-week Smartraining schedule. (If you need a reminder, here’s the post.) While I explained why three days is better than two, I didn’t explore why strength training on the Smartrainer every day is a no no and why your body needs a full day off in between your strength workouts.
I see it all the time, most recently with the great folks I have included in my 8 week Smartraining study, the level of enthusiasm (I LOVE the enthusiasm) for a new workout routine leads to a “more is better” mindset. If three days a week is good, then 5 or 6 must be great. Not so. Those days off in between, the recovery, are a critical component to building strength.
Here’s a quick physiology lesson: To build muscle, you must first push your muscles beyond their normal use. When your muscles are challenged in this way, microscopic tears develop within the muscle fiber. Your body needs a recovery period, a day off, to repair these microscopic tears. In fact, it overcompensates on the repair job, so that you are stronger for the next time. Koko Smartraining programs automatically adjust your workout volume (load x sets x reps) each session to take best advantage of this process, but let me be very clear, in order to get the most out of your hard work on the Smartrainer, you must allow your body a full day to recuperate.
Does a recovery day equate to “do nothing?” No! A recovery day should, at times, include activity. A Koko Cardio session is perfect. It pumps the lactic acid out of those recuperating muscles. A recovery day should also include a full 8 hours of sleep, healthy fuel including lean protein and complex carbohydrates, and plenty of water. (After all, your muscles are 72% water!) Your body requires all of these, in concert, to optimally repair and rebuild muscle fiber.
So, when it comes to your full-body strength workouts on the Smartrainer, more isn’t necessarily better. And even though we understand that the realities of your life may require that you occasionally have to schedule your workouts back to back, timing strength workouts every other day should be your rule of thumb. I’m not asking you to curb your enthusiasm, no way, only to accept that the recovery day is just as important to the physiology of strength building as lifting the weight.
Michael Wood, CSCS
Chief Fitness Officer

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About Michael Wood, Chief Fitness Officer
Michael Wood, CSCS, is Chief Fitness Officer at Koko FitClub, driving the development of integrated strength and cardio training and nutrition programs for Koko members nationwide. A nationally acclaimed fitness expert, Michael has conducted research as a Senior Exercise Physiologist at the Nutrition, Exercise Physiology and Sarcopenia Laboratory at the Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, and has lectured at Boston University and the University of Connecticut. He has been named Boston Magazine’s “Best of Boston” Personal Trainer, and made the Men’s Journal “Dream Team” list of the nine best trainers in the U.S. Michael and his family live in North Attleboro, MA.

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