I will get straight to the point, why is recovery so important, whether you are building muscle or trying to lose weight??
Recovery is probably one of the most overlooked and discarded practices in the health and fitness industry.
I know you are probably sat there reading this thinking '' how the hell are some stretches or light cardio at the end going to help my progress?? ''. Simple answer they won't but, if you use intelligent and focussed practices of recovery they will not only reduce your risk of injury but, also, enhance your ability to target and train the muscle with better activation, able to train with heavier loads, maintain better form during each exercise and also reduce (DOMS) delayed onset muscle soreness.
Now you may think I'm talking rubbish but it has been proven in previous and recent studies that using dynamic stretching, muscle activation and feeler sets before you start your training, it can increase performance and output while reducing injury risk. Also by simply tensing and flexing the muscle you are working in between sets as you rest, can increase the pump of that muscle and help break down the tissue further creating more damage to be repaired.
Once you have finished your training always look to spend 10-15mins cooling down and stretching off, for example, try using an upright bike for 5-7minuites medium to light effort level, not only will it use a few more extra calories, but will help driving fresh oxygenated blood into the muscles, which will help speed the recovery process and possibly reduce the severity of doms in the days to come.
After this try using a foam roller on the muscle groups you have been working, by applying force on to the roller it acts as a basic physio massage technique, (not as effective as a good physio but a lot cheaper!), or, better still, if you train with gym partner, try a mix of static stretching and PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) stretching, just ensure the person who is helping you knows what they are doing. These practices will serve you greatly by improving blood flow, removing toxins and will help stretch the sheath around the muscle allowing the muscle greater room to grow without being restricted.
Now to some this may seem like a lot of effort for little return, but I can ensure you that building muscle take a serious amount of time and anything you can do to help speed it up is worth it, plus if you have ever been really injured you will appreciate anything you can do to not get injured again.
I realise I have rattled on a bit and could continue with many other aspects of this topic but I will save that for part 2. I can't stress this enough that if you can stay injury free half the battle is won as you can be more consistent with your training and train harder each time.
Keep your eyes peeled for part 2 of recovery, it will be worth it.
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As promised here is the second instalment of the recover blog, strap in tight as we get a bit geeky. So as I mentioned before by doing dynamic stretches, muscle activation and light foam rolling before training can increase performance, I'm going to explain why:-
The reason why you should use dynamic stretching instead of static stretching is because, by statically stretching the muscle you are about to work it will lengthen and also relax the muscle, putting it in a stretched and weakened state, so trying to lift weights with this will mean you won't be as strong as you could be, by using dynamic stretches like bodyweight squats or bodyweight lunges for example, it will bring blood and warmth in those muscles and prepares them for the work they are about to do.
Besides dynamic stretches, muscle activation is a similar tool used to increase muscle mind connection and also prepare the muscle and nervous system, this is important for three reasons:-
(1) T better the muscle mind connection the better the muscle will work and contract harder (2) By the nervous system being stimulated it will fire and work better assisting contraction of the muscle and assisting muscle mind connection further
(3) It will help to warm up, further reducing injury riskand providing that pumped up feel good factor. Foam rolling Pre training will also draw blood in to the muscles and area you are training and prepare them for the work ahead. There are countless videos on YouTube illustrating how to use these different techniques and drills and we have loaded a few basic demonstrations on the site to help explain.
After your training, besides a small amount of light low impact cardio, static stretching starts to play an important part in recovery, by using these stretches to lengthen the muscle and reduce tension held in the muscle from training, and also the sheath that surrounds each muscle which can reduce the muscles growth potential, stretching will create room for the muscle to expand.
Foam rolling at this stage is important for applying pressure to the muscles worked, helping to remove old blood and replace it with fresh nutrient and oxygen rich blood, not only this but foam rolling can be used to reduce knots in the muscle and basic physio massage treatment. For example after you finish your back training place the roller on the floor then lay on it with it across your back, applying the weight from your upper body on the roller and only your feet on the floor, slowly roll up and down and, if you come across a painful spot, stay on that spot until it releases, (WARNING over simplification please watch more detailed videos for full tutorial). Pnf (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) stretching is where a static stretching is implemented, then preferably with a person assisting, holding the stretch adding gradual resistance against you as you push against them for a few seconds, then once you stop pushing they lengthen the stretch further and repeat this process, WARNING only perform these stretches with a trainer or make sure you and your gym buddy know exactly what you are doing and gradually build up the intensity of the stretch over a few weeks. Finally deloads and rest weeks, now if you are following a program, continually looking to progress, then it's important that every so often you use a deload week, where you can follow the program you have been using but using reduced loads and slightly higher reps on each exercise, or you can choose to do other exercises that interest you, or even other activities altogether, as long as its not too intense, this serves as a new muscular and neurological stimulus allowing them to recover ready to hit it hard again the week after. With rest weeks they can mean either having that time off training totally allowing you to fully recover, or focus on a week of walking, stretching, and other activities, whether it be yoga, swimming or even ping pong some thing that isn't strenuous, allowing your body nerves and mind to heal, because without your nerves firing properly and your mind not concentrating fully your progress will soon slow down or even stop. I hope you got to the end before falling asleep, but by putting these into practice they will have a dramatic effect on your ability to train hard, recover quicker and speed your progress up. Thank you so much for checking out this blog and I hope this helps you and explains these practices clearly, if you have any comments or questions please drop us a message, like and share all feedback is welcome, stay strong stay hungry and keep an eye open for the next blog #recovery #foamrolling #stretching #maxperformance #fitnessgeek #fitnessblog #healthylifestyle #abetteryou #bodybuilding #bodytransformation #athleteperformance
Part 2 - Here is a simple demo video of how to use the foam roller :-