The low down on how to increase your recuperative powers between workouts!
One of the big problems intermediate to advanced bodybuilders face is how to maximize recuperation from heavy training. Beginners are rarely faced with this problem, as they are usually not strong or conditioned enough to make serious demands on their system by performing hard, frequent, prolonged workouts. Weight training can lead to a vicious cycle, though, mainly because of the type of training it requires (progressive overload) and the personality of the average competitive bodybuilder (no pain, no gain, high intensity). Let's step through a segmented life cycle of a bodybuilder, and see if we can find out where the trouble starts, and provide some answers.
A typical beginning weight training program starts with about a dozen exercises performed for about three sets of ten reps. Instructions and reasons are given for performing the exercises on three alternate days of the week, with a break of two days after three training days. Gains usually occur rather rapidly on this program, due to the relatively poor condition of a beginner, and our trainee may notice that he can add either weight or reps to almost every exercise on each workout day for about a month to six weeks.
After a couple of months on this program, a curious thing happens. Three sets of an exercise no longer seems to provide enough stimulus for a muscle to grow, so our trainee is forced to add either more sets or more exercises for each muscle group. This works fine-for maybe another few weeks. At this point, we reach another crossroad. The problem now is that the workouts are beginning to last so long and are getting so heavy that our trainee finds that maintaining a high degree of energy throughout the entire workout is impossible. Keep in mind that he is constantly adding weight to all of his exercises.
Make a permanent mental note of the following point, as it is very important: The more weight you use in a particular exercise, the greater demand it makes on the system as a whole. A set of 10 reps of a barbell curl with 50 lbs. equals 500 "units of work," whereas a set of 10 reps with 100 lbs. equals 1000 units of work. Even though at each particular time, each set was done with a weight you can properly workout with, the overall demand on the body is certainly not the same. Multiply this increase by every exercise in your routine, and you'll get some idea of what you're body has to go through.
Either through trial and error or instruction, our trainee decides to split the workout in half. By doing half his workout one day and the other half the next day. Since doing this for six days a week will provide no real benefit (units of work will still be the same), he decides to do half on Monday, the second half on Tuesday, rest Wednesday, the first half again on Thursday, and the second half on Friday. This allows him to take the weekend off to head to the beach and check out the latest in bikini fashions. Immediately he notices he is making progress again and that this 4-day split seems to be the perfect way to train-for about another year. At this time, our trainee again reaches a plateau, and wonders what to do next. The 4-day split looks perfect on paper, and our trainee is looking pretty good himself, so he is reluctant to leave the guidelines of the 4-day split. There is another logical progression, however, and I'll call this the every other day split.
In this system, we still divide the workout in half, which we will label workout A and workout B. We begin by performing workout A Monday, rest Tuesday, workout B on Wednesday rest Thursday, workout A on Friday, rest Saturday and Sunday, then workout B on Monday, and so on. I am not the inventor of this system, but it is no doubt the next evolutionary step after the 4-day split; believe me, gains will start snow-balling again. One thing to remember is that you should not, in most cases, perform more sets per body part than you did in the 4-day split. Doing so will increase your units of work level to a point where gains will cease again. You should be working to a point of maximum muscle congestion (pump) which should be in the vicinity of about 8 sets per body part, using 8-12 reps. Maximum pump indicates the degree of anaerobic stimulation you are receiving, which translates into increased muscle size.
Now a dietary tip, or actually two of them to be exact. Your diet should consist of mainly complex fibrous carbohydrates and low fat protein sources such as fish, chicken, some lean red meat 2-3 time pre week and a high quality protein powder A high potency vitamin-mineral supplement should be used, particularly emphasizing Vitamin C as calcium adsorbate, natural vitamin E, B-Complex, Vitamin D3 and a good balance of the minerals-except calcium. Here we're going to give a little twist to your calcium supplementation.
First, remove all dairy products from your diet. Then supplement your diet with enough calcium lactate to supply you with 1200 mg of calcium, along with one 2000 IU Vitamin D3 capsule daily. Take the calcium lactate in 3 or 4 divided doses throughout the day with a meal. Why? By increasing calcium as the lactate in your diet, your muscles and liver will produce enzymes to reduce the amount of lactic acid in your bloodstream. In case you didn’t know it, a muscle pump is nothing more than an accumulation of lactic acid. When your muscle feels tired and still slightly fatigued the day after a heavy workout, that’s an indication that not all the lactic acid, or lactate, has been cleared from the muscle, hence the muscle has not fully “recovered”.
The quicker you can neutralize the lactic acid buildup, the more complete and faster your recovery rate will be. It seems that the calcium lactate will substantially boost recovery time by neutralizing more lactic acid in the muscle than would normally be possible, which allows a quicker and more thorough recovery. As for tip number two, the inclusion of specific amino acids which stimulate HGH (human growth hormone) release allow your body to retain more protein and allow a faster rate of protein synthesis to occur, thereby giving you an anabolic effect (with no side effects). The amino acids arginine, ornithine, and lysine taken at bedtime on an empty stomach along side a good ZMA supplement seems to be giving the best results I’ve seen with the many amino acid formulas around today.
Keep these points in mind, especially if you’ve reached a plateau. Reaching an impasse is almost always due to the fact that another workout is occurring before you have recovered fully from the previous one, or you are not working the muscle to its maximum degree of congestion. By adopting the principles mentioned above, you should be able to eliminate these two pitfalls and get progress rolling again.
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