Gym gym gym – the word excites many young athletes who are anxious to get big and build muscle. Of course the more time you spend in the gym the more you are going to grow right? Yes, but not necessarily. When learning to build quality muscle one must understand that recovery is just as important and maybe more important to achieve adequate muscle growth.
The reason behind this fact lies in the recovery process that happens once your end your training session. when you exercise you stress your muscle fibers with millions of micro tears. Upon recovery these tears heal and the muscle fibers grow larger during this process. Over time this cycle is what causes muscles to grow larger due to the constant added stress from training. However when you do not achieve the right amount of recovery between training sessions and during sleep, you inhibit your body from completing this process which can lead to excessive bouts of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), a decreased resistance to illness, emotional mood swings, and a decreased urge to train.
Proper Rest Protocols to Achieve Quality Muscle
Hormones play a key role in your ability to build muscle. The optimal levels of growth hormone, testosterone, and cortisol all play a part in your body’s ability to respond to the stressors of training. When you sleep your body is able to regulate these hormones to help your body grow. This is why it is recommended to get a good nights rest.
(Side Note: Human growth hormone (HGH), the one substance that is BANNED and what so many athletes are busted for each year is produced NATURALLY when you SLEEP! Be Smart)
So what constitutes a good nights rest?
The standard recommendation of 8 hours per night work for most people but factors such as the athletes training age, current nutrition habits, and muscle fiber composition will play a major part for this number. This sleep should be UNDISTURBED. Turn off all lights, electronics, and allow your body to go into a deep sleep to repair itself.
Supplements such as melatonin and ZMA both help to achieve deep sleep and regulate hormones while sleeping. It is imperative that hormones such as cortisol and DHEA are under control due to the fact that their increased levels can be devastating to an athlete. Symptoms of abnormal levels of cortisol and DHEA include:
- Excessive exhaustion
- Increased need for carbs in the evening
- Increased serotonin levels which channeled to thoughts of depression
- Prolonged muscle soreness
- Salt and water retention
- Increased R.E.M sleep
Yes train dirty!! Get in the gym and cause hell each time you train, but you you must rest just as hard. Each night plan to go to REAL SLEEP. Cut off those phones, instagram can wait, and turn the tv OFF. Always remember, you GROW when you SLEEP.
Bahar, J. (2015). Rest & Overtraining: What Does This Mean for Body Builders.