Here's some thoughts and advice from Coach Paul on what 'rest' actually means.
When I started writing this my ultimate aim was to give people a simple message about the importance of rest.
However, the truth is the process of rest and recovery from a biological point of view within a human is amazingly complex, and I’m not smart enough to understand it to explain in full.
Read the information below at your leisure if you feel like it, but here is a little summary.........
I’ve worked with athletes of all levels and the most important thing I teach about rest is that it isn’t just about letting your muscles and tendons etc. recover, but probably more importantly, your brain.
If you are going to improve at performing the complex movements you either love or hate, then you have to let your brain shift into the state it needs to store those patterns more permanently.
Rest therefore means complete stop. Not ‘an active recovery day’ or ‘some mobility’ but a complete break. Rest means not doing or more importantly not (consciously) thinking about your training.
Therefore it is important to take time to do other completely different activities to give your mind breathing space to get itself together…….
Why is rest important?
We’re all influenced by something known as a circadian rhythm. This is a 24 hour cycle in the physiological processes of all living beings. Essentially, circadian rhythms are endogenously generated (meaning they are influenced from within a particular organism). However, there is increasingly strong evidence from more recent studies that (in this particular case) that vital rhythm can be influenced by exercise and for that we are concerned about here, the “stress” of strenuous exercise.
How is it affected?
The hypothalamus is a part of your brain that has an instrumental role in coordinating neural and drive functions. Functions of the hypothalamus include maintaining energy balance, metabolism, autonomic nervous system modulation, and the circadian clock.
There is increasing evidence that exercise has noteworthy effects on sleep/wake cycles and circadian clock modulation in humans, although the mechanisms involved are not fully understood.
Why do I need to know this?
As mentioned above, the circadian cycle can be affected by exercise.
Sleep, learning, and memory are complex phenomena. Studies suggest that the quantity and quality of sleep have a profound impact on learning and memory. Research suggests that sleep helps learning and memory in two distinct ways. First, a sleep-deprived person cannot focus attention optimally and therefore cannot learn efficiently. Second (and what we’re focusing on more here), sleep itself has a role in the consolidation of memory, which is essential for learning new information.
(You can think of this in relation to learning to Snatch or your more complex gymnastics movements).
The exact mechanisms are not known, but learning and memory are often described in terms of three functions:
Acquisition refers to the introduction of new information into the brain.
Consolidation represents the processes by which a memory becomes stable.
Recall refers to the ability to access the information (whether consciously or unconsciously*) after it has been stored.
Each of these steps is necessary for proper memory function. Acquisition and recall occur only during wakefulness, but research suggests that memory consolidation takes place during sleep through the strengthening of the neural connections that form our memories.
Although there is no consensus about how sleep makes this process possible, many researchers think that specific characteristics of different stages of sleep are associated with the formation of particular types of memory.
*If you have spent more than 30 seconds with Coach Paul, you will have heard him talk about the importance of subconscious actions in Olympic lifting.
So now you get the idea. Over-training means you're probably not sleeping properly. Poor sleep leads to prolonging the process of skill acquisition. Right now you're probably thinking you need to cram in more time in the gym to practice the things you're not good at. Back round to over-training.
Simply switch off for a while.
(And that means not watching videos of someone else over-training on Instagram)