By Blake and Gwen Beckcom | Fitness
Most people think that muscles develop and grow during a training session. Actually, it is during the periods between workouts that stimulate muscle growth. Without proper rest between sessions, the muscles cannot repair themselves properly, which will hinder any growth.
To gain strength more quickly, pack on lean mass and recover faster, you must follow several guidelines that will give your muscles everything they need to perform (and recover) at optimal levels. Foam rolling helps to increase blood flow and reduce knots in your muscles, try using a foam roller after every workout. After your workout, roll each muscle group five times to help boost power and mobility.
Keep moving, even on rest days. Although you should allow 48 hours between workouts to help boost recovery times, this doesn’t mean you should simply sit around. By performing some sort of light activity, such as walking or casual biking, you force key nutrients to cycle through your muscles, accelerating recovery.
Go to bed early. Although you probably have better things to do than go to bed at an early hour, sleep is one of the best ways to speed up recovery between workouts. Your body produces growth hormones all throughout the day, but the highest levels are produced while you sleep. Staying up late not only makes you feel tired the next day, it also hinders muscle growth. Many scientists also believe that sleeping for less than seven hours per night inhibit protein synthesis and increase the breakdown of muscle tissue.
Do some minimal type of workout for your off-days. Just because you aren’t hitting the weights doesn’t mean you shouldn’t exercise in some form. To help stay active and speed recovery, use the following moves, three times each:
- Walking high knees: To start, stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your left knee, and raise it up as high as you can. Take a large step forward, and then repeat the move with your right knee. Take forward steps like this for a distance of 10 yards, then turn around and walk back to your starting space.
- Lateral shuffles: Begin by standing up straight with your feet just slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Lower your body while pushing your hips back, and then shuffle to the right for 10 steps, then shuffle back to the left for 10 steps. To prevent injury, do not let your hips drop lower than your knees.
- Arm circles: Standing straight with your feet shoulder width apart, extend your arms straight out to your sides. Your palms should be facing forward. Start swinging your forward arms in small circles, gradually building up to larger ones. Once you have performed 10 forward swings, stop and change direction, performing 10 backward swings.
Remember, to keep your muscles in peak condition, you shouldn’t simply “rest” on rest days. Even the simplest of movements can help your muscles recover in record time and help you reach your fitness goals more quickly. Lastly, nutrition is 70 percent of the battle. Eat as hard as you train. Peak recovery is about rest and nutrition . . . and continuing to move in between work out sessions.
—Blake and Gwen Beckcom run Fitness Together Mission Hills. Contact them at fitnesstogether.com/missionhills.