Friday, April 3, 2009

Remember to Recover!

We are always being told to exercise more in order to lose weight. After all, the more regular we workout, the more calories we burn. However, it is also important to understand why muscles need quality rest you'll be able to plan an exercise regime that will be more effective for you and your individual needs. You can't just attempt to follow a workout plan found from a magazine. That may cause more harm than good!

Here is how it works:

When we exercise, our muscles break down. Tiny fragments of protein within the muscles cells shatter. The more we exercise during a workout, the greater the muscle catabolism (degradation). It's one of the reasons why we actually become weaker as we progress through a particular routine. How quickly muscles degrade also depends on the strength of the individual and the intensity of the exercise. Obviously, the stronger and fitter the person the slower the rate of breakdown. Also, the more effort we put into an exercise, the faster the rate of muscle catabolism. It's why you can walk longer than you can run.

After any workout, your muscles need to replace all elements lost. Both proteins and energy stores need replacing for muscles to make a full recovery. Here's where the problem comes in - If muscles are not given enough time to recover fully before another workout is repeated, then the muscles progressively become smaller. What this could mean for weight loss is a gradual decline in lean tissue, thus lowering the metabolism over the course of a few weeks. A lowered metabolism could be disastrous for a dieter because less calories are burned overall, meaning they must either lower calorie intake even further (not always recommended) or burn more energy through more exercise... which will only exasperate the problem. This can be another cause for the common weight loss plateau for those who do exercise regularly.

Our muscles calorie burning potential can only help us lose weight if they are allowed to reach their fat burning potential. This is the reason why recovery between workout routines is so important.

To help your muscles recover, here are a few tricks you can use –

Do not lower calorie intake below 1500 per day
Eat a little high quality protein at most meals
Get plenty of sleep
Try to rest a day between hard workouts.
If new to exercising, try to train every other day rather than two consecutive days in a row.

As fitness levels grow its possible to increase the number of training days in a week and still be able to recover within a day. But remember to start slow and build up gradually!

So take a day off. You deserve it. :)

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