It’s easy to get excited when you go into the gym, your mind still fueled up by the images of herculean men pushing through brutal workouts in a video you watched on your smartphone.
Unfortunately, advice and inspiration offered in bodybuilding magazines and videos for building an epic physique may not build muscle in the gym. While this information may encourage you to go all out, the advice does not guarantee that you will build muscle.
1. You build muscle after a workout, not during it. The impressive pump you get is only short-lived. All a workout does is send a message to your body to build muscle because each exercise cause microtears in your muscle and places an adaptive stress on your overall metabolism.
2. Working out puts your entire body in a state of catabolism, a state of metabolic breakdown.
3. By focusing on rest and nutrition, your muscles will heal, getting bigger and stronger, and your body will revert to a state of anabolism, a stage where biochemical processes grow muscles by repairing damage.
In short, if you focus on recovery as earnestly as you focus on working out, you will build muscle. Otherwise, you will be faced with taunts like, “Do you even lift, bro?”
Here are 5 ways to put a premium on muscle recovery.
1: Try out compression gear.
Compression clothing like shorts and tights during your workout will hold muscles in place and improve blood flow. However, you can also wear them after your workout, as well. Let’s say, you pounded your calves after an intense leg workout day. Wearing the best compression socks will help relieve pain in your ankles and calves, as well as improve blood flow. It’s important to find the right compression pressure for you. Mild compression socks exert 8 to 15mmHg of pressure while stronger compression socks can be as high as 40 to 50mmHg of pressure. These socks can also be stylish and worn with formal wear.
2. Practice Discernment.
One thing you have to keep in mind is that bodybuilding magazines, books, videos, and websites often feature the top competitors in the game. These athletes have everything worked out, from how many grams of protein, carbohydrates, and good fats to eat to how long to sleep for optimum recovery. What works for them may not work for you. So treat their advice with some healthy skepticism, particularly when it comes to the “no pain, no gain” philosophy.
You do need to stress the muscles, but not so much that they hurt for days. Through experiment, you will learn how much is too little and how much is too much. You should stimulate growth, rather than annihilate all possibility of complete recovery before your next workout.
3. Study the Science of Eating
One primary reason why some people make massive gains is that they know what to eat, when to eat, and how much to eat.
Self-discipline does not just start and end in the gym. You also have to become very good at the diet game.
One reason old school bodybuilder Rich Gaspari was at the top of his game in his early twenties was because he knew exactly what to eat. He read books on nutrition and supplements to get the winning edge. Lee Labrada, an engineer by background, also took this meticulous approach to eating properly.
You have to know what foods to eat before a workout and what foods to eat after a workout for full recovery. This is almost an exact science and this is where reliable bodybuilding information sources can be invaluable.
4. Stretching is working out, too
Many bodybuilders love to lift, but hate to stretch. As a result, they either skip stretching altogether or do it in a perfunctory way. This is a huge mistake. Stretching may not stimulate hypertrophy, but it helps muscles recover faster.
An article on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s secrets of success in bodybuilding offers this excellent explanation of why stretching is so important when building a remarkable physique:“Stretching not only increases flexibility but also is essential for growth. Why? Well, your muscles are packed together by fascia, a tough connective tissue. If you want your muscles to develop rapidly, you must expand the fasciae to make room for them. It's the same concept as stretching a plastic bag to fit in more groceries.”
5. Maximize the benefits of you post-workout meal
A metabolic window opens up immediately after your workout when your body will eagerly put to work any protein you give it. This is estimated to last an hour.
It’s a good idea to have a protein shake immediately after a workout. This is better than eating a protein meal for two reasons. One, it is easier to digest faster. Two, it can deliver from 20 to 40 grams of protein in a single serving.
In addition, you will also experience glycogen deprivation after a workout, so shortly after your protein shake, you should take some fast-absorbing carbohydrate supplement.
After you’ve taken a pre-workout supplement and done twenty minutes on the treadmill, you are probably all set to annihilate your muscles. However, you should only stimulate your muscles and then focus on optimizing recovery after your workout to make gains.