Friday, September 21, 2012

Resting to gain

In order to maximize your strength and muscle gains, you need to let your body rest and repair itself.  There are several ways that you can do this, and I am going to discuss just a few in this post.

When we think of building muscle, the first (and sometimes only) thing we think of is to lift weights. All though this is true, it's only half the equation.  Recovery is just as important.  When lifting weights, it creates small tears in the the muscle tissue, and not allowing for adequate recovery time could slow down the repair of those tissues; and often times leading to injury.  It's best to give yourself one day of rest between hard workouts.

Here are 4 ways of recovery to help aid in muscle gain, and reduce Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

1.  Sleep - Your body does amazing things to your muscles while you sleep.  The most important is that it  repairs tissues by producing growth hormones.  According to researchers in Brazil, not getting enough sleep can increase muscle LOSS by up to 60%.  Try to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night.

2.  Increase Calories - That is, on workout days.  Todd Durkin, C.S.C.S, recommends that you increase your calorie count up to 300-500 calories on workout days.  Your metabolism begins to increase as you lift weights, so therefore you need to get adequate calories to replenish that energy and repair the tissues.  You will want to get enough calories form protein as well, as protein is the building block of muscle.  Research suggest that eating 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight is sufficient for maximum results.

3.  Foam Roll / Massage - When you lift weights your body builds up scar tissue.  By getting  massage or doing some foam rolling it can help break up this scar tissue, which will help speed the repair process.  You only need to foam roll for about 5 min.

4.  Cold Bath - If you have the pain tolerance, you can soak your body in a cold bath (50-60 degree water temp) for about 5-12 minutes.  It's best if you can soak immediately after your workout to help reduce inflammation.  Scientists in Ireland say that it reduces DOMS by nearly 50%, which results in faster healing and feeling fresh again for those tough workouts.

Here is another article you can read for muscle recovery

I have used all forms of recovery for my training and competing, and I can say that they all play a very important role and have all worked.  If you only used one of these practices, I would suggest that you aim for more quality sleep.  

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