So You Want Big Muscles?
Well here’s a bit of news for you…your muscle growth begins when your workout stops. Push your reps to failure all you want, but your muscle mass and strength actually increases with productive recovery time.
Does this mean strengthen your relationship with your couch?
No. If you need to do THAT too often then please keep reading. (unless you want to tell me the Bachelor is on again). The recovery I am referring to is active rest, stretching, physical therapies, along with pre and post workout nutrition. Your body still needs to keep moving.
What Else Happens During Recovery?
I’m so glad you asked. Adding recovery time into any training program is important because this is the time that the body adapts to the stress of exercise and the real training effect takes place.
Recovery allows the body to replenish energy stores and repair damaged tissues. Exercise and other physical work causes changes in the body such as muscle tissue breakdown and the depletion of energy stores (muscle glycogen) as well as fluid loss. Without sufficient time to repair and replenish, the body will continue to breakdown from intensive exercise.
Check Yourself, Don’t Wreck Yourself
General feelings of malaise, staleness, depression, decreased sports performance and increased risk of injury, can all be signs of overtraining.
However, want to make sure all your hard work is paying off in a productive way? Then every so often it’s a good idea to check over your vital stats with your trainer or with a training buddy to see how you’re tracking.
Check your resting heart rate, blood pressure or jump on the scales. Record all your figures so that you have something to compare it to next time. Review your meal plan, or catch up with your physio/GP for a check-up. And if you’re brave, try and fit in to those jeans from 2006.
Oh that’s right, I have friends!
Remember those? Yes, make sure you’re taking time out away from work and exercise, to rest your mind as well as your body. Treat these recovery periods as milestones and celebrate by treating yourself to something special.
On that note, I’m off for a soak before the Bachelor starts…
Recovery Bath Recipe:
- Find your favourite rubber ducky.
- Fill bathtub with hot or warm water.
- Add between two and four cups of Epsom salt to the water.
- Mix the water with your hands and allow the Epsom salt to dissolve.
- Add five to ten drops of your favourite essential oil just before you step in the tub to maximize stress reduction. Some common choices are lavender, rose or chamomile essential oils.
- Soak in the bath for about 15 minute but no longer to avoid reabsorbing the toxins eliminated by the Epsom salt.
- Shower immediately after the bath to rinse the Epsom salts from your skin, which can dry your skin.
- Caution: Epsom salt, due to its high magnesium content, is a laxative. Swallowing of the bath water, especially by a child, could lead to increased bowel movements.