Want to increase your strength? Pay attention to your recovery!
When you apply resistance to your muscles, whether with bodyweight training, unconventional weight training, or standard weight lifting, you create micro-tears in the fibers of your muscles. As these micro-tears heal, they increase the size and quantity of muscle fibers, and thus your muscles grow stronger.
Additionally, as you would expect, those micro-tears increase the level of inflammation in your body, with all of the resulting chemical responses. This inflammation, along with the release of stress hormones such as cortisol, cause systemic damage in the body which can result in additional health problems. At best, over-training never allows those muscle fibers to repair properly nor allows the inflammatory and stress responses to diminish. At worse you set yourself up for injury. Either way, you quickly plateau and end up not making the progress toward your goals that you want.
All this is to say that recovery and rejuvenation are vital to getting stronger.
9 Ways To Optimize Your Training For Maximum Strength, Power, Endurance and Mobility. (In no particular order:)
#1 Refuel your body after your workout.
Carbohydrates don't do much in the way of repairing your muscles, but they do get broken down in the body and stored in muscle cells as glycogen. Glycogen is a raw ingredient in the synthesis of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP), which is what muscle cells (and all cells) use as fuel for cellular function. After a hard workout, the glycogen has been depleted from your muscle cells and needs to be replaced. Unlike protein, you can simply consume carbohydrates according to your normal daily needs over the course of the day and you'll refuel. However, having a light carbohydrate snack prior to a workout can help give you a bit of extra energy.
#3 Self Myofascial Release and/or Massage
Regular massage also helps to reduce soreness and increase flexibility and mobility as well as contribute to emotional and mental wellness. To get the best effect for your muscles, go for deep tissue or therapeutic massage as opposed to Swedish or relaxation massage.
One last SMR point to keep in mind... SMR before sleep has been shown to improve the quality of slumber, which brings us to our next point...
How much sleep do you need? A minimum of 7 hours per night is good with the ideal being closer to 8 hours per night. There are plenty of resources available to help you get an idea of how you're sleeping and to help you sleep better. The main way to help make sure you get enough sleep is to consistently go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning. You may need black-out curtains and either ear plugs or even better, a white noise generator (I use the "White Noise" app by TMSoft for Android and iOS).
Deep, 4/4/4 breathing and meditation will promote relaxation, a positive mental outlook and increased blood oxygen which will help lower the pH in your cells.
If you're a bit more advanced in your meditation practice, you may be interested in the Lifeflow meditation tracks. Using sophisticated brainwave entrainment technology, these audio tracks channel your brain wave frequency into specified ranges, improving the depth and ease of meditation.
#6 Active Recovery Exercise
To get to the right Target Heart Rate, you'll need to do some calculations. You will need the following values:
- Your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR).
- Your Resting Heart Rate (RHR).
- Your Heart Rate Reserve (HRR).
According to Lifehacker, Maximum Heart Rate can be best calculated as follows:
- "If you're not in your twenties: 207 minus 70% of your age worked better in tests of folks over 30, and of 10 and 16 year old boys.
- If you're female, and over 35: try 206 minus 88% of your age.
- 211 minus 64% of your age works well for older healthy adults, and for women."
Ideally, check your heart rate everyday for a week before you get out of bed in the morning. Then take the average of those values. Of course, lots of fitness monitors will also calculate your RHR.
HRR = MHR - RHR.
Target Heart Rate
Target Heart Rate = (HRR x %intensity) + RHR.
Again, go for about 50% intensity. Also, it's a good idea to keep track of your RHR because it can be an indicator of over training. If you see your RHR going up consistently, and over 10% of your baseline, dial back your workouts until your RHR is back within your baseline range.
#7 Rest Day(s)
#8 Nourish Your Body
Tips to make sure you drink enough:
- Get a 64 oz stainless steel growler from Amazon. Fill it up with water in the morning, and make certain to finish it by 4pm. (This is in addition to any water that you drink while exercising.)
- Become a water guzzler. Guzzling, rather than sipping, makes drinking 8 oz or more at one time easy. Save your sipping for diuretic beverages.
- Drink a glass of warm water with lemon juice in the morning when you wake up. It has a rejuvenating and re-hydrating effect on the body and mind.