In the previous article about “looking toned” I explained the importance of muscles for an athletic physique. I also explained how to stimulate your muscles and what intensity and type of exercises to perform in order to maximise growth.
I mentioned how important it is to have an optimal amount of muscle tear for them to be able to grow but this my friends.. is just the beginning of the muscle growth process.
Going to the gym is easy, but consistently getting stronger is very challenging. It requires intelligent training, proper nutrition, and good amounts of sleep and management of stress. This is the topic I’m talking about today!
After working out, your muscles will take from two to six days to recover depending on your fitness level and the intensity you trained. At this stage, when your muscles are recovering, especially during your sleep, is when they will be actually growing.
Providing you give them enough rest time in between workouts, this is how they will gradually get bigger and stronger.
Some people think if you smash the same muscle group everyday at the gym, it will make it grow faster but that’s wrong. Actually, you may be overtraining them. According to research conducted by Bret Contreras and his friends, “train too frequently, and the muscle will actually decrease in functional size over time, because you constantly stimulate before the muscle has completed recovery and adaptation.”
This is what happens to your muscles if you train them every single day (pic 1), or if you take too long in between sessions (pic 2).
When you perform excessive amounts of exercise without proper rest and recovery you may experience some harmful side effects caused by overtraining and this is the last thing you want to be doing if your goal is to be healthy/toned and fit!
Ok, so now you understand that rest days are as important as training days for muscle recovery, nerves, bones, and connective tissue. They need time to rebuild back to complete working health.
But resting not only means giving yourself time in between workouts, it also means sleeping well.
While we sleep, we go in and out of four phases of sleep. This is known as the “sleep cycle”, and is the time at which the body releases the growth hormone, (good for muscle growth) but having good nights of sleep also bring on other benefits, such as, maintain a healthy balance of the hormones that make you feel hungry or full, improves learning and memory, helps you function well throughout the day increasing reaction time and better productivity, healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels, less irritability and stress. ALL OFF THESE FACTORS aid in muscle building as well by managing your stress levels.
Active recovery is another thing you can do to recover a little bit faster from your workouts! But remember, this is meant to be low-intensity, such as walking the dogs, low intensity cycling or jogging, or mobility exercises. You can schedule a specific day to do these or walking for 5 – 10 minutes on the treadmill after your workouts works too. Whatever you ENJOY doing!
That helps mobilize the joints and gets the blood flowing through your muscles, which brings them nutrients to build new muscle as well as getting rid of waste products.
You can also go for a massage or foam roll (I personally love these two here ;)).
Well, I hope that helps. Wish you all a good rest day! hehe And stay tuned for the next article where I’m gonna cover a very important topic: NUTRITION!
Lots of love,