Sometimes doing nothing can be the most important part of your workout regimine. Not only a physical need but a mental one as well. Read as Kevin gives you the low down on the importance of doing nothing.
All serious trainees in the gym think it is so important to workout really hard, give every rep their most and it is not a great workout without being totally exhausted. This has always been an indicator of how hard you work or how hardcore you really are. I’ve heard people say how they workout 7 days a week for 2 to 3 hours sessions. I want to know one thing about these people. They are usually the ones that never reach their goals. They are usually the ones that think more is better.
More is not better. A good balanced plan for your goals is what is best. Putting your body through tough workouts day in and day out is counterproductive to what you want for your fitness goals. Some people think the more you are in the gym, the quicker your results are going to be or the faster you are going to grow those big biceps or 6 pack abs. Sometimes doing nothing is better than doing everything. But let’s take a look at what I’m talking about.
Let’s start off with what the gym really is. The gym is nothing more than a tool for torturing your muscles. It is where you break down muscle fiber, work it hard and where the building of good quality muscle actually does not start. Bet you thought I was going to say something different. Workouts are only a small percentage of the overall picture of what you fitness goals should be. Just working out will not get it done. I used to think I could out workout my diet by thinking the harder I worked out that I would burn more calories and therefore lose weight just by working out harder and more often. I learned this was not the case. I was actually going backward. You can’t out run a bad diet, first off. It has to be balanced as well. Having the right amount of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in your diet will help build quality muscle and shed unwanted fat . But, that is not what totally does it. The biggest help in any fitness program is REST. Yes, rest. You must get enough rest to properly build quality muscle and or lose or gain weight. Rest is by far one of the most important factors in a good program. Most people don’t get enough of it. In fact, the ones that think they get enough rest are the ones that usually burn out or hit training planes and don’t reach the goals they have set for themselves.
"Putting your body through tough workouts day in and day out is counterproductive"
Let’s talk about what happens with proper rest. Like I stated before, the gym is for breaking down muscle and a good diet is used partially to fuel those workouts and help build muscle but rest allows you to recover. It is a scientific fact that the cells and hormones in the body work differently in your body when you are sleeping. Getting enough sleep helps your immune system fight off all sorts of illnesses including colds, the flu and even heart disease and diabetes. Getting 7 to 8 hours of good sleep in a good rule of thumb to proper sleep but that is not the end of it. Your body has a reflex set up in it that if you skimp on the amount of rest you are getting you can make it up by using a longer session to fully recover. But if you stick to that 7 to 8 hour rule you will be refreshed and recover a lot more faster than if you skimped on some sleep during the week.
There is something to be said about rest. What is proper rest? and how do you get it?
Sometimes getting enough rest takes a great deal of sacrifice on ones part because let’s face it, in this fast pace world we are told that you can get a good workout in only twenty to thirty minutes a day so you don’t have an excuse to not workout. But what about the quality of rest are you getting. How do you know if you are getting enough rest? How do you know how to judge if you’re getting enough rest or not. Most of us have jobs that are at least eight hours a day. We are not professional bodybuilders whose jobs are most of the time working out, eating and resting all day. But how do some of those professional bodybuilders get enough rest in the process that has full time jobs? They know how to schedule proper rest and have what I like to call “Nothing days”.
Nothing days are just what it says. You pick a day and do nothing at all. Whether its vegging out in front of the TV or sleeping all day. It does not mean you are lazy because that is what has been ingrained in our society now that if you are not up working hard all day long you are lazy. Your body needs rest. Even in the pioneer days, where humans had to toil all day long, usually on Sunday because of religious beliefs, but they did little to no work on those days. You rested. You let the body and mind heal. This is the same concept you should use in your fitness regimen as well. Even stay away from social network sites! If you do have to interact, make sure it is something soothing to your mind and body. Any type of stress will go against what you are trying to accomplish. These are the days I like to plan my cheat meals. Now, don't gorge yourself on food, but this is where you let those cheat days help and give you a break from having to plan meals and eat right all the time.
Now, lets break it down to ways to get proper recovery rest:
Your daily nutritional intake is a huge factor here. If you put junk in your body , your performance will be junk. It is as simple as that. So make sure you are getting enough quality carbohydrates (not too much) and proper protein to help rebuild muscle tissue, and enough good fats to help brain function and fight off illnesses and other possible chronic diseases.
Sleep is vital for recovery. Sleep is when your body does its best repairing and rebuilding. Skimp on sleep and you will delay recovery. Through the course of a night's sleep, you cycle through several phases. During the slow-wave stage, growth hormone is released by the pituitary gland, stimulating tissue repair.
During exercise nutrition, it is important to talk about how well hydrated you must stay even for proper recovery. If you workout less than thirty minutes water can replace what you have lost in that time but if you workout more than thirty minutes you need to at least have a sports drink with fast digesting carbohydrates to fully recover. Now some studies have shown that blood glucose will not totally deplete itself in just an hour or two but when it comes to faster recovery does it not make sense to make sure you are fully hydrated and stocked up on reserves so the body can start it’s healing process and cut down on the time it takes for it to heal properly? During exercise, your muscle cells take up glycogen at a higher rate than when at rest. At the end of an exercise bout, this effect lasts up to 30 minutes. Glut-4 molecules hang out on the muscle cell membrane and grab glucose from the blood. Glut-4 molecules are super-activated by high intracellular calcium and insulin levels produced during exercise. Refueling within 30 minutes of the end of an exercise bout enables you to take advantage of the Glut-4s while they are still ramped-up. This will quickly replenish your muscle glycogen.
Just staying hydrated throughout the workout does not mean you can’t make sure you are ready . So make sure your pre workout time consists of making sure you are fully hydrated and have your “tanks full” and refueled for your workouts. This will help fuel your workouts, and again, help in faster recovery.
If you miss this window it can take up to 48 hours to fully replenish your muscle glycogen fuel stores. Also, immediately consuming protein may reduce post-exercise muscle breakdown.
Time management and stress are huge here as well. Do not burn the candle at both ends is the old saying that comes to mind. Learn to get yourself into a proper sleep cycle and have nothing days. Your body will thank you for it. Also, stress can dig into your recovery and sleep. Stress can lead to burnout and injuries, not a good thing for athletic people. Keep the stress down. This is why nothing days are important.
"Stretching before, during, and after a workout is crucial to reducing injuries and helps in recovery time."
In all of my articles, I talk about stretching and I will say it again. I cannot talk enough about it. Stretching before, during, and after a workout is crucial to reducing injuries and helps in recovery time. Even doing activities like Yoga or Tai Chi can help in recovery, not only for the body, but for the mind. Meditating, as well, has proven to reduce stress and heal the body. Hey, it’s worth a shot right?
I have recently found that a massage is one of the best ways to help in recovery. It may cost a little bit but there are ways you can do self-massage techniques, but it is nothing like going to a professional masseuse and having a deep tissue massage. What these professionals can do is nothing but miraculous in my opinion. Especially, if you work out hard.
These nothing days I have talked about are totally personal but try them for a while and see how they really help in your other day to day activates. Force yourself to have them. Sometimes you will have friends and family try to get you to do other activities on a nothing day but look inside yourself and see what sacrifices are worth not getting enough rest. If your friends and family truly understand where you are trying to go with your fitness goals they will respect you and let you rest. This is also why it is great to hang out with likeminded people who believe in the same things you do. This makes it less stressful in the long run.