To master Rest and Recovery we have to do some repetitive things, some counter intuitive things and some down right anti-social things. It takes a very high level of mental control and commitment to succeed and make progress in fitness. You will need to make sacrifices that you never thought possible and which are almost laughable or self-alienating to other people like friends or family. If you're not careful, you will find yourself failing by default due to the obstacles that lay before you. It's ok to fail sometimes, as long as you acknowledge the failure so you can help to prevent it from happening again. Knowing where you've gone wrong gives you the power to put it right.
1. Training Too Much
We have all been victim to this in the past - and putting it right is extremely counter intuitive. The feeling is that training more will make you bigger, stronger, leaner and fitter - this is because we think it's solely the stimulation that determines our progress when actually it is our recovery from it as well. Most people can train Intensely with weights between 3-4 times per week to make progress, maximum (drug free). Any more than this and you may stop making progress towards muscle growth. Training too much is detrimental in three ways; first is that you risk causing injury by training muscles/ tendons that have not recovered, secondly you delay recovery from past workouts by stimulating new muscle damage, leaving your body insufficient time and resources to repair all the new damage before the next session. And Thirdly, you exhaust your Central Nervous System which will stunt your muscular recruitment (strength) and release harmful stress hormones. Keep your workouts short and Intense and then focus on resting well.
2. Not Training Enough
No matter what level you are, always be looking to increase training to 3-4 times per week. If you are only training once or twice per week, it will be hard to make any significant progress long term. We need to create enough stimulation to be actively recovering on all non-training days instead of just 1-2 days afterwards (potentially missing out too on the added fat-burn effect of more muscle recovery). With 3 major muscle groups - Legs + Chest + Back and 3 minor ones - Shoulders + Arms + Abs, just 1-2 sessions cannot stimulate everything enough. Over time the stimulation of muscles must increase to make progress, so cramming every muscle group into one or two sessions is unproductive long term. To make progress, we must be recovering from 3-4 sessions every week.
3. Not Eating Enough Protein
No matter who you are, your muscles have been made from the food you have eaten, fact. In bodybuilding, the amount of protein you eat can directly relate to how well your muscles recover. People might not eat Animal foods for many, many reasons; fear of health problems, dislike of taste, morals, ethics, religion, family influence, prices, diet issues etc. None of it is relevant when it comes to what the human body needs to make progress, build and maintain muscle + lose body fat - and that's protein (and fat for that matter), end of story. Protein is the number 1 nutrient for all mammal life on earth, and it is vital for muscle growth. Protein should make up 40-50% of your total daily energy/calorie requirements from Animal sources (essential proteins) if you wish to make progress. Once you focus your diet on this nutrient, you might find yourself becoming healthier and more fit than you thought imaginable! Click here to learn more about proper dieting for bodybuilding.
4. Ego Training
Ego Training is when an exercise is performed (usually very poorly) with the false perception that it is contributing to your progress, when in reality it is just solely massaging your ego, e.g. lifting way too much weight on the bench press. When we recover we actually want our muscles to grow! Going home with nothing but an ego massage is a fast track to injury and zero muscle growth. At some point in life we're all victims to a bit of ego training, believing that more was better and strength means 'progress'. In reality, it's possible to be 'weaker' than you used to be, but have way more muscle mass, shape and definition due to lifting slightly lighter weights with better technique - plus be injury free! Do yourself a favour and train your muscles for a change, so your days off become more productive. See here for info on proper technique for bodybuilding.
5. Social Pressure
How you choose to handle the big wide world is key; The big killer is when people don't assume control of their training and diet and fall victim to the influence of others, which can possibly halt their fitness progress. Partying, drinking, staying up late and eating junk food can be great fun, but detrimental to the progression of your goals. You probably won't lose all your friends on this fitness journey, but you might lose one or two - either way you are going to be respected much more as a friend and person if you stay committed to your schedule. Sacrifice a little - gain a lot.
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