Are You Resting Enough?

Did you know that your gains happen outside of the gym, when you are resting? That’s right.

Exercise is just the initial push, a necessary stimulus that forces the body to go through physiological adaptations (getting stronger, building muscle, becoming leaner). For those adaptations to occur, the body requires time to clean up the mess created by your workout session (think of all the by-products left behind) and to repair broken down tissue that was (purposefully) damaged during exercise.

So what happens if we don’t give time for the body to recover?

Well, first you will not see the results you were expecting. And second, you may get yourself injured. 

Without proper rest, the body doesn’t have the means to restore balance which can be dangerous.

You see, exercise acts as an stressor shifting the body into Sympathetic Mode (aka fight or flight). In this mode, our internal environment is bathed in adrenaline-like hormones, raising the hear rate and breathing, shifting blood flow to muscles and releasing energy from our energy stores.

But this is a temporary state. When we finish our workout, the body will then shift gears, getting into Parasympathetic Mode (aka rest and digest). At this stage, muscles begin to relax, blood flow is redistributed to internal organs, heart rate and breathing returns to normal, and processes like digestion can be resumed.

In a cellular level, the body starts the clean-up process, removing  exercise by-products and buffering acid that was left behind. Blood flow will also bring more oxygen, glucose and minerals that are necessary for replenishing depleted energy stores.

Later, when you are sound asleep, specific hormones are released promoting tissue growth and repair, and energy is completely restored.

Now that you know how important rest is, let’s see what you can do to give mother nature a hand.

How to Improve Recovery

  • Cool down

After a workout session, it is important to guide the body through a cool down process. This helps returning heart rate and breathing to normal levels, and redirecting blood flow back to internal organs (preventing blood to be pooled in the lower limbs). It also promotes the initial removal of by-products and starts buffering of acids which preventing muscle soreness.

Good ways to cool down are: light exercise such as a gentle walk, stretching and using a foam roller to massage muscles, all of which can prevent the formation of knots (tight spots on muscles).

Also, keep in mind that all of those modalities can be performed later in the day if it is not possible to do immediately after your training session.

  • Hydration

During a moderate to intense exercise session, the body loses a considerable amount of fluids. If you tend to sweat profusely, it may even temporarily reduce your weight (not fat loss, just water).  That’s why it is important to drink plenty of fluids after exercise.

Keep in mind that rehydrating the body helps eliminating exercise by-products because the extra water temporarily increases blood volume, forcing the kidneys to filter the blood, flushing out toxins in the process.

  • Proper Nutrition

After exercise, your body is starved. If you had a good training session, chances are you have used most of your energy (stored in the muscles and liver) which needs to be replenished.

Your post exercise meal is one of the most important because your body will be like a sponge ready to absorb everything you consume.

A post-workout meal should contain carbohydrates (for energy) and protein (for muscle repair). Examples are sweet potato and chicken, eggs on toast, protein shake with banana.

  • Relaxation Techniques

Remember that to send the body into recovery, we must shift into Parasympathetic Mode. But if you are under considerable amount of stress, your body is trapped in the Sympathetic Mode.

That’s when relaxation techniques can be beneficial. Techniques like meditation, deep breathing, and mindfulness can help calm down the mind, leading the body into a more favourable state.

  • Contrast Showers

Contrast Showers, alternating between hot and cold, are commonly used by athletes to accelerate recovery. This protocol forces blood to flow from muscles to internal organs, creating a pump effect that can flush toxins and by products out of the body relatively quickly.

  • Proper Sleep

Sleep is one of the most under-utilised forms of recovery. During sleep, specially deep sleep, the body releases growth hormone which is responsible for tissue repair and muscle growth.

In addition, proper sleep helps control appetite, boost immune system and keep stress hormones (cortisol) at bay.

Aim for a minimum of 8 hours of uninterrupted shut eye.

  • Massage

Massage reduces muscle tension, aids in recovering normal length of muscles, and prevent the formation of knots (tight spots on muscles). It also promotes general relaxation taking the body into parasympathetic mode.

  • Other ways to relax and recover

Taking a hot bath with Epsom salts can help with muscle relaxation, reduce inflammation, and improve sleep.

Magnesium supplements tend to promote muscle relaxation, improve muscle function, maintain electrolyte balance (preventing muscle cramps) and reduce general fatigue.

Compression garments are tight clothing that are designed to improve recovery. They are usually used by athletes to enhance performance and accelerate recovery time.

Want to create your own recovery protocol? Then, you will love this BONUS recovery chart.

Click here to download.

Got Questions?

If you have just started a new exercise routine, it is normal to have a million questions. I have answered a few of the most common questions I often get. If you have any other question, please post it on the comments below and I will get it answered for you.

Fat Loss Habit #1 Exercise Regularly

I believe that you are familiar with the concept of energy balance. In theory, weight-loss happen when you burn more calories than you consume. That generates a negative energy balance forcing the body to used stored energy (mostly fat) to keep you going.

But do you know how many calories you need to burn in order to get rid of a single kilogram of fat? A whopping 9000kcal. That’s the equivalent of 30 hours on a treadmill. That’s assuming that you are not consuming more calories than your body need.

Before you walk away from, listen me out. Don’t get discouraged by the numbers. The good news is that any physical activity can contribute to your daily calorie count. And by physical activity I mean anything that get you moving, not only structured exercise.

Here are my strategies to turn your body into a furnace.

Plyo HIIT Workout

Want to burn some serious calories? Then, you must give this one a try.

This circuit is composed of four body weight plyometric (aka, explosive movement) exercises performed in a interval format.

The goal is to perform as many repetitions as possible within the time limit. You also want to move as fast as you can to maintain the intensity high and maximise the calorie burn.

At Home Fat-Burning Circuit

Looking for some serious calorie burn? Then, this workout is for you.

It is a whole body circuit you can perform virtually anywhere. No equipment needed. Here is the exercise list:

Don’t Let Your Metabolism Slow You Down

You probably have heard a lot about it but do you really know what is metabolism?

In simple words, metabolism is the process in which the body converts food into energy. And why does it matter? Well, for starters, your metabolism determines how fast you burn up the calories you consume. The higher your metabolic rate, easier it is to burn calories.

The amount of energy your body needs to survive, aka basal metabolic rate, is determined by your age, gender, body size (height and weight) and body composition. Let’s face it, most of which we can’t change.

But do not despair! With a little help, we can fine-tune your metabolism and transform your body in a calorie-burning machine.

Changing Your Exercise Perspective

Don’t you love a New Year? Our hearts fill up with hope and we start envisioning how the year is going to look like. We get in touch with our dreams again and say: “It’s time to give it one more try”.

Does that sound like something you would say? I have certainly experienced that several times. There is nothing wrong with that. However, to get something you never had, you must do something you never done. Doing exactly the same thing you did last time is not going to cut it. You need a fresh start.

If you are not an active person and seem to have trouble sticking to any exercise regimen, try changing the way you perceive exercise. You see, exercise should not be seen as a chore but an activity you spontaneously do FOR yourself (not to yourself). The goal is to find enjoyment rather then focusing solely on a desired outcome.

Keep in mind that results (no matter what your goals are) come from small efforts consistently repeated over time. The keyword here is CONSISTENTLY. That means that if you really want to get where you want to be you must be able to stick to a plan. Truth be told, you will be more likely to be consistent if the activity you choose to practice brings you joy, excitement, and a sense of accomplishment.

Weight Loss Plan

Losing weight is not an easy task. Just ask any person who has ever tried maintain a lean body and they will tell you that it is hard work. You may think that all you need is strong willpower but I’ll tell you right now: willpower is not enough. You need a good plan. Without a proper plan your efforts won’t last a week.

Did you know that to lose 1 kg of fat you need to burn whopping 9000 calories? Just to put into perspective, a light jog burns about 200 calories per hour (depending on your body weight) which means that you will need 45 hours of running to burn a single kilo of fat. Discouraging? You bet.

Working the Back – Horizontal Pull

The basic horizontal pull exercise is a row. It targets mainly the horizontal fibres of our back muscles. When you develop a strong back, those muscles pull the shoulders back (flattening the shoulder blades against the rib cage), giving you a nice open-chest posture like ballerinas and military people have.

Rows are similar to pull-downs/pull-ups. They both engage the same muscle groups and involve shoulder and elbow joints. The difference between the two exercises lies in body positioning. In a pull-down, weight is moved from above the head to the chest (vertical pull). In a row, load is moved horizontally (seated cable row) or in an angle (bent-over row), depending on how you position your body. Rows could be considered the opposite movement of chest presses.

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