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Have you ever felt sore and fatigued the day after your workout? Ever feel that soreness makes it a little more challenging to workout causing your body extra fatigue? Recovery is a critical part of all physical training. Unfortunately, it’s an important aspect in training that often gets neglected. In this article I will be talking about why recovery is necessary, and the processes involved in recovery for optimal performance and for gains of course! Ready to take the gains up a notch just by resting? Let’s get into it!
When you place your body in any form of physical activity, several things happen in your body that make recovery important. For example, lifting weights puts stress on your muscle fibers. Thus, when you exert any form of physical stress on your muscles during a workout it damages the muscle fibers causing them to break apart. Luckily for us, our bodies are capable of recovering quickly from various forms of physical activity. By building recovery time into any training program is important because this is the time your body adapts to the stress of exercise. Recovery also allows the body to replenish energy as well as storing and repairing damaged muscle tissues. Now you may be wondering, “So how many rest days should you take a week?” Dedicating either one or two rest days during each week in your routine will be doing your muscles a huge favor by allowing the muscle fibers to rebuild. Allowing time for the muscle fibers to rebuild leads to stronger muscles which is always a plus!
Now I know what you’re thinking…you may say “well if I take a rest day that means no gains” or “I don’t need to recover I have goals to hit” or even “If I rest, then my competition is winning”. Let’s break it down a little further and see what else is involved in post-workout recovery that will change your mind about rest days and recovery!
Here are a few important elements of recovery and why it plays a huge role in your workout routine:
REBUILDING MUSCLE FIBERS: When exerting stress on your muscles it damages the muscle fibers causing them to break apart. The picture below demonstrates damaged muscle fibers after an exercise. This occurs after any form of exercise to the muscles and is why recovery is an important part in anyone’s routine. During recovery, you are allowing these fibers to heal and become stronger than they were before… aka building STRONGER muscles!
INCREASED MUSCLE PROTEIN SYNTHESIS: Studies shown by the NIH (National Institute of Health) stated muscle protein synthesis in the human body increases by 50% after training sessions. Protein synthesis allows our muscles to grow and create more strength by repairing the damaged muscle through post-workout nutrition. After each training session it is important during this time period to fuel your body with a high protein and carb meal to fuel the muscles up. Those nutrients will allow the muscles to maximize muscle repair and growth! The picture below demonstrates how the muscles repair and fuel themselves with glucose (carbs) received in a post workout meal to recover and grow efficiently.
RESTORATION OF FLUIDS: During physical training the body sweats causing loss of fluid. If you ever feel dehydrated in or out of the gym this is why! By properly
hydrating your body before, during and after any form of exercise, you can maintain levels of fluids in the body. This is where BCAA’s come in handy! By utilizing BCAAs
you can maintain the fluids in your body to sufficiently deliver nutrients to all vital organs and muscles in the body.
Branched-Chain Amino Acids also known as BCAAs are the essential amino acids Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine. They’re “essential” because our bodies don’t make them on their own which is why we must supplement them. Studies have shown that BCAAs make up about 35% of the body’s muscle protein making them the building blocks of protein!
BCAAs help preserve your stored glycogen – the muscles primary source of fuel for energy production during your workouts. This allows your body to have a reliable source of natural energy to tap into throughout a workout to keep you going. This is why BCAAs are a huge win-win for your muscles since they help sustain them!
BCAAs are also shown to enhance muscle protein synthesis, specifically Leucine. Leucine is the main amino acid in BCAAs when it comes creating pathways for protein synthesis! This is why BCAAs are directed to take before during or after a workout because it also prepares the body to absorb all nutrients from your post workout meal!
Are you starting to notice how everything is interconnected? This is why not only dedicated rest days are important but so is your overall nutrition to help maximize muscle recovery! Properly resting and fueling your body will allow you to get the gains you’ve been striving for in the most efficient way possible. Without properly recovering you’re compromising the muscle you’ve been working hard for and slowing down the rebuilding process of the damaged muscle fibers. Don’t compromise the gains you’ve been working for! Listen to your body and give yourself a rest day. Don’t worry you won’t lose out on gains, instead you’ll be one step closer!