I know this sounds contradictory but its the truth. Our muscles need time to grow and repair when we are out of the gym. After reading work from Dr McGuff in his book Body by Science its clear our muscles only need a certain amount of stimulation to trigger growth. What’s optimal? I would say lifting heavy weights with intensity once or twicea week is more than enough….
Go Hard once or twice a week for a short duration. Shock the muscles and cause adaptation…..
If you want to keep busy on other days engage in sports, body weight circuits, Sprints or long walks. Have you ever noticed some of the biggest guys hit the gym with intensity once every couple of weeks and keep active the rest of the time……
Knowing When To Quit
If you have been reading any of Chad Waterbury’s stuff recently you will know that when form and rep speed of your movements slips its time to quit the set and rest up. I like going for 25 reps for a body part keeping weight fairly high and rest under 60 seconds. Go through as many sets as you need to achieve roughly 25 reps with the selected weight. Just remember to stop as soon as your lifting speed slows down or you loose that spring, lift explosively and do the negative slowly.
The same goes for Sprinting. When doing sprints it is time to stop once you loose your explosiveness and your legs start to feel heavy. For me this is normally after 5-7 sets with about a 1 minute rest.
- Try 8 sets of 3 reps
- A Simple workout of 5×5 Squats and Pullups
- Make sure you try to progress with the weights you are pushing
The reason for stopping the set once your rep speed slows is to do with muscle fibers firing, there is no need to go any further as it will only cause injuries and overstraining of the tendons rather than muscle growth and adaptation.
This is key for me. Keeping things intense in the gym not only makes things fun but it’s the best way to workout. Make sure you workout with little or no rest this is great as it kills two birds with one stone. You will not only be working out your muscles but you will get a cardiovascular workout as well.
The beauty of this is that you will empty out your muscle glycogen stores during the workout plus you will increase your EPOC throughout the day which means you burn more calories over the next 24-72 hours plus you improve nutrient partitioning allowing your muscles to act like sponges soaking up what you eat and putting it to good use.
A good interval based workout can take as little as 15 minutes. They are fun and intense and provide real benefits in a short amount of time. Check out SimpleFit for no equipment workouts or the Daily Fitness Solution workouts for some pointers.
In order to grow more muscle you need good nutrition. This doesn’t mean eat as much as you like and try to force feed your way to muscle growth. Just eat when you are hungry and stick to wholefoods. Another tip I like is to keep eating away from bedtime (unless you are hungry). This works in two ways it stops fat gain and it improves HGH release through your sleep as you won’t be tied up digesting your food during the first few hours of your sleep. Just eat when you feel like it, don’t be tied down by any “eat every 2-3 hours” dogma.
Keep you’re protein fairly high and eat lots of good fats (Fish Oil, Avocado’s, Coconut Oil, Salmon, Sardines, Eggs, Butter etc) this will not only keep you full but these foods are slower to breakdown and therefore provide you with satiety and energy throughout the day. You also want a lot of unrefined starch in your diet, things like Yams, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes, Brown Rice and Oats….
Snack on things like Carrots, berries and other fruits. For dips when snacking I love a homemade Guacamole or Salsa use some cut up peppers or carrots to achieve the crunch factor.
How do you know if you’re not getting enough sleep? Check out this on sleep it outlines just how important sleep is to our metabolic and total health.
You don’t need to be getting 9-11 hours of sleep every night to grow or recover but the more solid 7-9 hours of solid sleep you get per night the better. Do whatever you need to in order to get off to a good nights rest. If that means reading a book, watching some TV before bed or even having a small glass of wine after a stressful day then go for it. It’s not only muscle growth that you get out of a good night you will also function far better mentally the next day. Chances are if you have had a day recently in which you were easily irritated or more on edge than normal it was down to a tired mind and lack of sleep.
So get plenty of rest and relaxation. If you can afford it going for a neck and back massage once a week is a great way to promote relaxation and break away from stress. I also find a bit of old fashioned running or swimming a great way to relax on an off day. Take time to unwind and activate your PNS the rest and digest system – this can be done through relaxation techniques (deep breathing, yoga, meditation) or just by learning to control and deal stress better.
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