Archive for the tag - rest

You Don’t Get Bigger at the Gym!

flexing guyHere’s a strange fitness truth: You don’t get bigger at the gym.

At the gym, working against resistance rip and damages your muscle fibers; it’s not until after the gym, when you go home or to work, that your muscles get a chance to rest, recover and rebuild. It’s through the rebuilding process that your muscles become stronger and larger.

In other words, rest is one of the most important elements in your workout plan.

Why is this important?

Because many people exercise the same muscles over and over again everyday. If you work the same muscles each day – even after they are still sore from the previous workout – then you are selling your results short. In fact, you may even regress by damaging already damaged muscles.

For these reasons, it’s absolutely crucial that you get plenty of rest and that you avoid training muscles that are already sore from previous workouts. If you’re doing total body workouts at the gym, it means taking a day off in between. If you train different muscle groups each day, as I do, then it means hitting each muscle group only 1 – 2 times per week.

The bottom line: Hit your muscles hard at the gym, but give them ample time to recover and rebuild for maximized results. When it comes to training frequency, more is definitely not better.

How to Heal a Pulled / Torn Hamstring.

Just over six weeks ago, I had a vision. My Pilates instructor and I were discussing goals, and I immediately imagined myself flexible and limber enough to do a full straddle split. While I thought this flexibility would be particularly beneficial in the bedroom, it would also help my running performance and gymnastics.

And so I became a man on a mission – and worked tirelessly to stretch my tightened leg muscles. On one such occasion, I held a deep straddle stretch and timed it for five minutes. By the end, my brow was dripping in sweat and I knew that I had pushed myself. Perhaps, a little too far.

Muscles stretch best when warmed up, and so I always do cardio before any sort of static stretching. In this instance, however, my warm-up wasn’t enough and my stretch was too deep – and it soon became clear that my hamstring muscle was pulled.

First, I’m not a doctor – and so I’m not in the business of giving medical advice. I will share, however, how I was able to treat my pulled muscle using a popular method called R.I.C.E. It includes rest, ice, compression and elevation. I’d also add a “P” to the acronym, short for patience, and thus advise the “P.R.I.C.E.” method.

  1. Patience. I am six weeks into my pulled hamstring recovery, and I’m still not fully healed. It takes time. Lots of it. You must have patience with your body or else you’re going to experience a great deal of frustration.
  2. Rest. As an avid runner, having to skip cardio or leg workouts felt like a prison sentence. However, continual strain causes increased inflammation – and increase recovery time. You should rest until the pain is gone – and know that this may take many, many weeks.
  3. Ice. Icing an injury for 15 minutes, several times a day, is a great way to reduce inflammation. Go the the pharmacy and get yourself a decent, reusable ice pack. Wrap it in a paper towel and apply the ice pack to the injured area.
  4. Compression. An elastic bandage or tape can reduce the swelling that results from the inflammatory process.
  5. Elevation. Elevating your leg both aids in the waste removal process and decreases inflammation.

Of the five, I believe that patience and rest are paramount. They’re also the most difficult. I keep finding myself thinking, “Oh, a little run couldn’t hurt.” But in reality, you’re likely to just further extend and already long recovery time. Give your body time to repair, rebuild and recover.

Within another week or two, after missing nearly two months of cardio, I’ll be getting back into the game. I’ll enjoy working back up to my previous abilities… just don’t expect a split anytime soon. ๐Ÿ˜›

Have you ever suffered from a pulled hamstring? Let me know about it in the comments below. How did you recover?

Answered: Should I Eat the Same Amount of Protein on Off-Days?

Dear Davey,

I work out 5 days a week and take Sundays and Wednesdays off. On the days that I exercise, I make a protein shake with whey powder. Should I also be drinking a protein shake on my days off?

From,
Bryan

Dear Bryan,

While you might take Sundays and Wednesdays off, your body does not! On your days off, your body is busy recovering and rebuilding new muscle. As such, it needs a constant supply of protein.

First things first, you’ll need to calculate your protein needs. I like to use this handy formula. For some people, protein supplements aren’t needed – they can get their required protein from a well-balanced diet. But many weight lifters and exercise enthusiasts will require additional protein, and protein shakes are an easy and effective way to get it.

If you require 130 grams of protein, for example, this amount doesn’t change on your off-days. You’ll need to continue fueling your body 7 days a week, and if your diet isn’t providing the required amount of protein, taking your shakes will certainly help get you there!

Bottom line: We might rest but our bodies do not – protein requirements don’t decrease on days off from the gym.

Love,
Davey

How Long Should I Rest Between Sets?

I think I could rest with him for the remainder of my life.

In yesterday’s fitness tips, I mentioned that it’s always a good idea to time your rests – especially if you’re looking to maximize your workout’s efficiency. It begs the question: How long should you be resting in between sets?

Like so many things in fitness, it depends. Rest time depends on your goals, what you’re training for, how you’re feeling, how old you are and so on. But here are the basics.

When you workout, you use energy. Duh. We know that it takes 2.5 to 3 minutes for your energy system (often called the phosphagen system) to fully recover after an intense set of exercise. So what does that mean for rest times?

3 – 5 minute rests: If you are training for power lifting, sprinting, football, etc. – or any sport that requires short bursts of explosive energy, wait 3 – 5 minutes in between sets. It’s a long time to wait, but it will result in the fast, quick power that these athletes need. Studies also show that it also boosts testosterone levels which increase strength gains.

45 – 60 seconds: Resting for a shorter time does not allow for full recovery – and that’s a good thing if you’re looking to build muscle size or train for a sport that requires constant energy over a longer period of time (i.e., marathon runners, soccer players, swimmers, etc.). Training with 45 – 60 second rests forces the body to improve it’s ability to sustain moderate or fairly high intensity exercise for longer durations of time. Trainers often espouse the 1:1 ratio – equal amounts of lifting to rest. If it takes you 50 seconds to complete your set, rest for 50 seconds.

At the end of the day, you’ll have to find out what works best for you. Some people swear by 90 second resting periods. Others by 2 minutes. Listen to your body and your results.

Any questions? Let me know in the comments below.