Hello everyone!!! I hope you are all doing well!
Let's get right to it!
A few days ago we talked about taking time for yourself to relax and allowing your body to rest. Today we are going to dig a little deeper into the topic of resting and discuss why it is necessary in order to build and/or tone muscle. This information is beneficial for those trying to cut weight or bulk up,(or in other words, lose fat and/or gain muscle :).
There are two words you must understand in order to know how to prepare an adequate diet and exercise program. No matter what your goal is: losing weight, gaining muscle, toning muscle...you must understand when your body is at work vs. when it is at rest. No, I'm not specifically talking about when you are sleeping or when you are awake. I'm focusing more on muscle work vs. muscle rest cycles.
Most people believe that they are building muscle while they are performing an exercise. They imagine that each extra lunge or pull-up will pack on the muscle or help them drop weight right before their eyes. Then they leave the gym feeling pumped, smiling to themselves as they reflect on the amount of muscle they just built or fat they just lost. The truth, however, is just the opposite.
While you are at the gym (or workout location of choice), you are actually breaking your muscles down. This is known as the catabolic state. Each exercise targeting a specific muscle causes the muscle tissue in that area to be torn (i.e. break down). That being said, the more exercises you do focusing on one area, the more the muscle in that area will be broken down. Now, before you start thinking "Oh boy, I better stop exercising or I won't have any muscles left," let me advise you that this break-down is necessary to build muscle later. Muscle tissues are broken down during the catabolic state in order to create energy for the workout. The problem lies in the fact that most people think in order to build muscle, they have to spend hours in the gym targeting that muscle. Truth be told, you should only target specific muscle groups for up to 1 1/2 hours. Anything after that will deplete your muscle tissue too much and cause your muscles to become smaller rather than larger over time. Keep in mind, this is not a quick or approved way to lose weight (for those trying to cut).
The opposite of the catabolic state is the anabolic state (i.e. the process that occurs when muscle is being built). When the body is in an anabolic state, it is at rest. This is actually when your muscles are building/toning and when fat is being lost. After a workout, the body goes into a resting mode (anabolic state) in order to repair all of the damaged muscle tissue resulting from the exercises performed. During this time, the body breaks down fat molecules and nutrients from the diet and uses glucose to provide the energy for the tissue repair. (Many believe that fat can be turned into muscle, where in reality, fat is broken down and parts of it are used as an energy source to repair muscle tissue damage - leading to stronger, bigger muscle). So remember, if you want to build muscle...you have to let your body rest!!!
Going along with the importance of allowing your body time to recover, it is also important to remember that your body needs adequate nutrients to help fuel the process of fat depletion and muscle growth. If the body does not get enough nutrients before or after a workout, it is forced into a catabolic state. This is because the body must find an energy source for rebuilding the muscle from somewhere and if there is not a steady stream of fuel from a proper diet available, it will attempt to use more muscle tissue (i.e. break it down more) in order to try to repair itself. Clearly, the body cannot effectively build muscle by using muscle, thus, the muscle will continue to be broken down and the body will become weak.
In order to prevent an on-going catabolic state, one must provide the body with a protein source every 2-3 hours. The body is able to use protein to fuel muscle repair and an anabolic state is able to continue without interruption (from starvation mode). The more exercise you do, the more protein you will need. This is why protein supplements are so popular in the fitness industry (not to mention it keeps you feeling full longer, decreasing the need for unnecessary snacking - leading to weight loss over time). By supplying the body with a rich protein source before, during, and/or after a workout, the time frame of being in a catabolic state is decreased and muscles are able to be built (repaired) faster. Therefore, it is beneficial to have a small protein-filled snack before or after your workout such as protein shakes, lean meats, Greek yogurt, or 1% cottage cheese.
Brief overview of tips:
- Don't work out longer than 1 1/2 hours at a time when trying to build muscle or cut weight
- If working out longer than an hour, supplement your body with electrolytes and/or protein
- Allow your body to rest after all workouts
- Never workout the same muscle group more than once every couple of days (to allow adequate rest time)
- Eat protein every 2-3 hours to provide enough fuel for rebuilding the damaged muscle tissue
I hope you understand your workout and/or diet a little more now! Click here to go to a great source for more on this information!
Have a great day!
_________________________________________________________________*Disclaimer: All of the information provided here is the opinion of the author after thorough research of medical surveys, medical reports, and medical/government web site information. It has not been reviewed by a medical professional and results cannot be guaranteed by the author. Consult with your doctor before planning any diet or fitness changes.