To get faster on your bike, you have to train. Training applies stress to your body. When you recover from that stress, you get stronger.
With the right mixture of stress and recovery, you will see fitness improvements for a long time. But, too much stress without recovery can hurt your performance and health.
During our podcast interview with Restwise, we learned about training, recovery, and overtraining. This article will give you a better understanding of all three topics.
Why Training Works
Your body responds to the demands of exercise by improving itself. For example, your muscles grow larger, and your lung capacity and capillary density increases.
Here is a simplified description of how muscle growth works to explain the process. Lifting weights cause your muscle fibers to tear on a cellular level. After the workout, your body repairs these micro tears, and in doing so, builds a stronger muscle. The next time you have to lift something heavy, your body will be better prepared to do so.
You have to push your body hard enough during a workout for the breakdown and recovery process to begin. By reaching just past your current level of fitness, you tell your body to get stronger—hence the term overreaching.
The fitter you get, the harder you have to push yourself to get a positive adaptation. If you are out of shape, going for a 30-minute walk may be all it takes for the process to begin. However, a professional cyclist may need to ride many hours for the same result.
High-level athletes often walk a thin line between being healthy and overtrained. For this reason, monitoring recovery is even more critical for elite athletes.
Rest And Recovery
For your body to properly recover from the stress of training, you need to rest. During rest is when your body rebuilds a stronger version of itself. Examples of rest include sleeping and downtime from exercise.
Getting enough rest while training is essential. A well-built training plan considers both exercise and recovery. The right program will lead to a continual cycle of breakdown, rest, and recovery.
If you train too often without enough rest, your body can't fully recover. Staying in an under-recovered state for an extended period is dangerous and puts you at risk for overtraining.
Overtraining occurs when you have pushed your body too far. Athletes who have entered an overtrained state experience many symptoms including:
- Lack of motivation to train
- A plateau or loss of fitness.
If overtraining progresses, it can also affect your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. Signs that your overtraining may have advanced to this stage include:
- Fluctuations in resting heart rate
- Hormonal imbalances
How To Prevent Overtraining
An experienced coach can help prevent overtraining with a well-designed training plan. We discussed this topic with Coach Mike Schultz on our podcast.
Restwise is also an excellent way for athletes to monitor their recovery. Restwise analyzes recovery metrics on a daily basis an calculates a recovery score. You can use your score to adjust the intensity and volume of your training plan.
How To Treat Overtraining
If you think you are overtrained, it's likely a good idea to see a professional. You'll also want to adjust your training plan to give yourself more rest. A reduction in volume and intensity is often recommended.
Listening to your body is also key while recovering from overtraining. Now is not the time to push yourself or be a hero and complete one more race. You have to rest to recover. The sooner you start, the better.
How To Recover Better
If you aren't currently adding recovery to your training plan, it's never too late to start. Rethinking your training plan or using a tool like Restwise is a great first step. Recovery is a long-term plan so don't expect dramatic results right away. Focus on recovery now, knowing it can have a positive effect on your health and performance down the road.