Many gym-goers hold the common misconception that working out is all it takes to build muscle, lose weight, and reach other fitness goals. However, if you only work out and don't give your muscles and body a chance to fully recover, you will soon find yourself plateauing and getting frustrated.
Have you worked out for a long time and not seen any results? You may be neglecting your post-workout muscle recovery.
Working out puts stress on your body
When you go to the gym to run on the treadmill, lift weights, sprint, jump, and so on, you cause microscopic damage to your muscle cells.
"All workouts, especially tough ones, stress the body. You’re fatiguing, or tiring out, various muscles when you work out, which means you’re causing microscopic damage to muscle cells. Hormone and enzyme levels fluctuate, and inflammation actually increases," says Chris Kolba, PhD, a physical therapist at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus acoording to Everydayhealth.com.
While working out can cause a lot of good, such as improved strength, weight loss, and better cardiovascular health, for these changes to happen, your body needs to recover in between stress periods.
The process is simple: as you work out, you cause microscopic damage to your cells. Your body's immune system kicks in to repair these damages, and as the repairs are done, the cells are a little bit fitter than before.
However, if you keep damaging the cells more before they have fully healed, the cells will not have a change to get fitter: you just tear them back up again.
Different muscle groups on different days
Now you might be wondering if you have to only work out every other day or a couple of days a week. Good news: no. You can give your muscles time to rest and recover by dividing your workouts into different muscle groups for each day of the week.
For instance, you can work out your legs on Monday, chest and back on Tuesday, and biceps and triceps on Wednesday. This gives time for your legs to recover and you can enjoy another leg day on Thursday.
In addition to dividing your workouts into different muscle groups, you should consider taking a day or two off from working out each week. Giving your body ample time to rest will only accelerate your progress.
Help your body to recover right
Taking days off from working out is an excellent start, but helping your body to recover also requires other things. Below, we will list the most important ones.
Don't neglect the importance of sleep
When we sleep, our body repairs itself. Sleep is the magic that allows you to rest and feel better in the morning, and its importance should not be undermined. In fact, a week or two of bad sleep or short nights will instantly backfire and take you back on your progress.
Remember to eat enough protein
Protein is what your body uses as building blocks for the damaged cells. If you don't get enough protein from your food, your body cannot recover properly.
An adult should have 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound.
Drink water and utilize recovery drinks
Drinking enough water cannot be stressed enough when it comes to boosting metabolism and recovery. You can also utilize post-workout recovery drinks and creatine to allow your body to heal faster.
Unsure about what to do?
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