Mastering Workouts, Rest and Recovery
How can you transform your workouts into pro-level, muscle-building sessions?
Let’s face it: we aren’t always confident about our workouts. There is always a seed of doubt buried in the midst of our exertions and that seed grows into a forest of anxieties when we see how well other people are progressing with their own workouts.
You don’t have to feel anxious anymore.
Experts have been studying fitness and bodybuilding for a long time and fortunately, there is now a “canon” of guidelines for bodybuilders to follow. While it’s obvious that we can’t list everything here, we can certainly discuss the most essential ones so you can begin modifying your approach to weightlifting.
- Breathe Methodically – Methodical breathing provides two immediate benefits to the bodybuilder: first, it improves the overall rhythm of the workout so the bodybuilder can pace his repetitions more effectively based on how many times he breathes. Second, it improves overall oxygen supply because you will inhale and exhale as you complete each repetition.
In the event that you consciously prolong each repetition, inhale/exhale twice in a row but make sure that you’re taking deep breaths.
Deep breathing is accomplished by expanding your diaphragm (the muscle under your rib cage) and by avoiding shallow “chest breathing” which is common for people with poor posture.
How should you breathe when completing heavy reps?
As much as we’d like to maintain the ideal breathing pattern, it’s just not possible when you’re performing heavy reps and sets.
Our advice would be to hold your breath, if you have to, but don’t deny yourself of oxygen for more than two straight repetitions. Also, don’t forget to listen to your body – when it’s screaming for air, give it some!
- Weekly Workout Rate – If you’re a complete beginner, the safe frequency is no more than three workouts per week.
Space them out so you have at least one or two days of rest and be sure to work out every major muscle group so you can observe just how long it takes for your muscles to recover from strenuous exercise.
We can’t tell you to rest for a specific amount of time because recovery time varies greatly from person to person.
The average recovery time for a relatively fit fellow is 24 hours. If the bodybuilder is naturally strong and has a high pain tolerance, he may be able to work out the next day with less than 24 hours of rest.
In the event that you can’t move or walk properly the next day after “going heavy,” give your body at least 48 hours to recover from your previous workout. In your next workout be sure to warm up properly and do light sets to see if your muscles are back in working condition.
- Consider the Factors – Genetics is just one factor that affects a bodybuilder’s ability to bounce back from a grueling workout. Here are some of the other factors:
- Larger swathes of muscle like the ones found in the chest and back have more muscle cells and therefore, they take more micro-damage during workouts. Expect these areas to be really sore after a good workout.
- Some types of muscle fiber take longer to fully condition themselves for another heavy workout, especially the slow muscle fibers.
iii. High intensity workouts with lots of resistance can really break down and split muscle cells. If you’re going the path that Dorian Yates and the Mentzer brothers took, expect longer recovery times.
- Compound exercises and movements that require more than one joint are more strenuous on the body.
You’re challenging not only the muscle tissues but also your soft tissues and ligamentous connections. If you’re a fan of whole body movements and combined movements, you need a longer gap in between workouts.
- Your age matters too! If you’re older than 35 years old, you can’t expect to have the same recuperation time as a 22 year old. Age is only a minor factor though; don’t let it get in the way of mass gains and general progress.
- Improve Your Nutrition – Bodybuilding doesn’t have its name for nothing – you’re literally changing your body from the inside out! If you want your muscles and joints to become stronger than they were, give yourself adequate nutrition. Protein is a priority, but so are vitamins and minerals. Ask your doctor about the proper supplementation needed by a bodybuilder.