Q: I’m a drug-free bodybuilder. How can I maximize by recovery between workouts?
A: Recovery is the forgotten element in most sports training. Pro teams such as the Chelsea Football Club and the Leicester Tigers Rugby Club in the UK and the Chicago Bears here have finally begun to hire sports nutritionists to develop recovery programs for their players. Attention to your recovery processes will enable you to train intensely more frequently. Here are five important tips for maximizing growth.
|1) Four to five times weekly, stretch your muscles thoroughly. Besides the well-known injury prevention and increased flexibility benefits, regular stretching maximizes hypertrophy by elongating the fascia, making room for the muscle to grow. After a very brief cardiovascular warmup (two to five minutes, just enough to make you break a sweat) stretch the targeted muscle group with proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation, a.k.a. PNF stretching. (For details consult a physiotherapist or a coach certified by me. You can locate a certified coach near you at my Web site.) Finish off with four to six 15-second static stretches. The combination of those two stretching methods is more effective than using one method alone. Static stretching makes permanent the rapid gains made with PNF.|
2) Deep massage of the connective tissue is probably the best recovery-boosting method. In my practice as a strength consultant with various national teams, I’ve routinely observed strength gains of 2 to 10 percent 24 hours after such treatments, though why elite athletes experience such a strength gain I don’t really know. Bear in mind that deep massage has quite a few names—such as Rolfing and neuromuscular reeducation massage. Warning: NRM is painful, about as much fun as getting the inside of your nostrils scraped with a mentholyptus-coated potato peeler. The rewards, however, are worth it. If your strength doesn’t increase at the following workout, seek a better therapist.
3) Don’t sleep more than eight hours in a row. If you need more sleep, you’re not eating often enough. If your schedule can afford it, have an afternoon nap ending 90 minutes before your workout. It will give you half an hour to eat your preworkout meal and an hour to digest before starting your session.
4) Abstain from alcohol. Alcohol will slow down your muscle gains by:
• Inhibiting the enzymes that product energy for your workouts.
• Messing up your sleep patterns. The reduced quantity and quality of sleep will minimize your recovery for the following workout. An evening partying on a Friday will foul up your sleep until the following Tuesday.
• Decreasing your natural testosterone production. A study done in Finland found that the occasional alcohol binge decreases your natural testosterone production for as many as three days. 5) Pay attention to your sleep patterns, recording quantity and quality in your training diary. If you have problems falling asleep, your training intensity may be too high, and if you feel you can never sleep enough, your volume may be too high.
Many self-hypnosis recordings are available. Try them before falling asleep. A number of athletes have reported enhanced sleep quality and diminished sleeping needs after using them.
Nutrients such as phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylserine and magnesium improve the quality of your sleep. If you follow these guidelines, you can achieve lean bodyweight gains in record time.