To a degree, the purpose of exercise is to damage your body’s muscles. By doing so, your metabolism is prompted to repair the muscles and develop muscle mass, a necessary component of strength and endurance. In order for your metabolism to repair and grow your muscles, you must maintain a healthy, well-rounded diet.

But, recovery and rest are equally as important to the enhancement of performance as exercise and a healthy diet.

What Exercise Does to Your Body

Creating micro-tears on the outside of your muscle fibers, by stressing your muscles with weight, is the desired effect of exercise. The micro-tears prompt your metabolism to supplement your muscles with the nutrients produced during the process of catabolism, the breaking down of food. Through the process of anabolism, your metabolism repairs your body’s muscles.

In addition to repair, the anabolic process also generates additional muscle mass. It is the development of muscle mass through the anabolic process of hypertrophy that increases your body’s performance.

The Importance of Rest to Muscle Mass Production

When you are awake, your body is in a catabolic — consumptive and degenerative — state. When you sleep, your body goes into an anabolic — regenerative –state, performing anabolic processes more effectively.

The average athlete and person who works out recreationally requires more sleep than the standard eight hours to fully recover from an intense workout. The most productive sleep, with respect to anabolism and hypertrophy, is slow-wave sleep (SWS). During slow-wave sleep, the pituitary gland releases growth hormone. However, SWS down not occur until the third and fourth stages of non-rapid eye movement sleep (NREM), stages associated with deep sleep.

If a person is not able to reach the third and fourth stages of slow-wave sleep, their body is not able to reach its maximum potential with respect to repair and construction, Sleeping a minimum of 7-9 hours increases your odds of reaching level three and four of SWS.

Time is Also Recovery

Time between workouts is also a major factor in recovery. A single night’s rest is not always sufficient for your body to repair itself. For this reason, most sports-science designed exercise routines do not stress the same muscle groups on two consecutive days. Instead, most workout regimens call for at least two or three days rest following the exercise of a major muscle group.

Simply put, there are two components of recovery: sleep and time.

Sources:

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/8871.php

http://www.ausport.gov.au/sportscoachmag/psychology2/strategies_for_quality_sleep

http://www.gssiweb.org/Article/sse-113-sleep-and-the-elite-athlete

http://jssm.org/gecc.php?id=jssm-07-560.xml