Friday, April 10, 2009
If you've spent any time in the bookstore browsing through
magazine articles on bodybuilding, you've no doubt come
across some pretty strong claims about how the latest
supplement fad can provide you with unbelievable results.
You may have also seen some recommendations on improving
your workout technique and other such advice.
What was probably missing from the discussion is the
importance of a solid recovery phase when embarking on a new
strength training or bodybuilding program. If you seem to
spend all your time in the gym without making any progress,
or if your initial muscle gains have reached a plateau, take
a moment to think about your recovery plans (or lack
First of all, what exactly is the recovery phase? Well,
let's review how muscle is built in the first place. In
order for your body to build muscle, you first have to give
your body a reason to build it. You see, on a basic
biological level muscle is an expensive asset to have, and
the body would rather not have to maintain it. The only way
to stimulate new muscle growth is to give the body a reason
to build it, and the way to do this is to take advantage of
our basic biological need to survive.
When we lift a heavy weight that the body is not used to,
the muscle is damaged on a microscopic level. Because the
body does not want to be put under this same stress ever
again, the muscle will be rebuilt bigger and stronger
(provided there is enough material for growth in the form of
protein and other nutrients).
So how does this tie in to the importance of resting during
the recovery phase? Simply put, the muscles must be given
time to rebuild before they are put under heavy stress
This means that we must limit the frequency of our workouts
in order to maximize their effect, and this is why many
bodybuilding experts recommend only a few hours of training
per week. You may have heard them refer to this concept
with the motto Less is More.
In addition to carefully planning your workouts to avoid
over training, you must make sure that you're getting plenty
of sleep in order to experience the best possible muscle
Sleep is, after all, when the body tends to repair. As we
discussed above, the body does have to repair itself and
build your muscles bigger and stronger than they were
before. That's why resting, and yes sleep, are crucial to
your success if you're serious about maximum muscle gain.