Rest can be a four-letter word for many fitness junkies, but this year it’s all the rage.

For athletes and gymgoers, rest and recovery are paramount. And while rest is pretty easy to understand (think lounging in sweats or going to bed earlier), recovery is more complex.

Recovery breaks down into three key categories: hormone balance, muscle and joint repair and mental breaks. Here's what rest and recovery looks like for each.

 

Hormonal: 

Hormones play a crucial role in feeling good and storing or losing fat and muscle. If you're working out hard and not seeing results, try taking more days off. Overtraining can actually lead to an abundance of cortisol in the body, the hormone responsible for storing fat.

 

Muscle: 

Muscle fibers tear during intense exercise, and to get stronger and see results, recovery time is necessary. Plus, muscle and joint injuries that happen during exercise are rarely caused by the actual event of the injury, but are typically a result of continuous overtraining. Downtime is your friend!

 

Mental: 

On non-workout days, think active recovery — a walk with a friend, playing at the park with your kids, cleaning the house. You can still move your body, but don’t push to the point of breathlessness or muscle fatigue. Get out of the gym a couple times a week and have as much fun recovering as you do with your battle buddies.

 

Catherine Thorpe is the founder of and an instructor at Full Out Barre with more than 30 years of dance experience.