Rest and recuperation are critical ele-ments if your desire is to be successful in bodybuilding. Everyone needs rest but athletes, bodybuilders and people who have occupations that involve hard physi-cal work need more rest than sedentary people. There are different categories of rest. One quantifiable type is the rest interval between sets. How much time do you allow before commencing the next set? A second type of rest is the rest interval between training sessions? How long before you train the same muscle again? Then there is sleep: how long do you sleep each night and are you getting enough quality sleep? Use different rest intervals between sets to elicit different muscular effects.
The length you choose will trigger a different physiological effect. If you want to get cut-up and lean you would naturally and correctly gravitate towards a focused and fast-type of workout style. If your goal is to increase your muscle mass you will need to increase your strength. Increased strength occurs when additional pound-age is handled or more reps are per-formed. In order to handle heavier weight or perform more reps per set you need to be totally recovered from the previous set. Allow plenty of time between sets when you are tackling the big weights. Heavy, compound exercise movements, those which involve the movement of two or more joints to push the weight to completion: i.e. squats, bench presses, rows, cleans, overhead presses, deadlifts, etc., will require more recovery time between sets than isolation exercises like curls or deltoid raises . Again, this is com-mon sense stuff but basic concepts need to be repeated periodically. Weight training is incredibly intense exercise and within seconds of the com-mencement of a heavy set, energy re-serves are depleted and waste products begin to accumulate(1-4). Creatine phos-phate serves as an energy donor and helps to maintain the supply of ATP, the molecule used by muscles to power con-tractions.
ATP is rapidly depleted and strength fades as a heavy set proceeds, muscular contractions soon stop alto-gether. During the rest interval between sets ATP and creatine phosphate stores are repleted. Supplementation with Creatine Monohydrate can help the entire deple-tion-regeneration process as it increases intracellular Creatine pools(5-6). Supple-ment with our Creatine Monohydrate Formula™ and you will get a better train-ing effect. What is the amount of time to rest be-tween training sessions? Some people do best by training each muscle group once a week, but training it very hard. Others get better results by training a particular muscle two or in some instances even three times a week. One key factor is your strength level. As you get stronger and lift heavier weights it takes longer to recover. Many experienced bodybuilders like to train each muscle group once a week for this reason. Beginners do much bet-ter by training each muscle two or three times weekly. After all, a man who bench presses 500 for reps and does forced reps and negatives will need a lot longer to recover than a rookie handling 100×5 in the same exercise.
Like most everything about training, variation is the name of the game. You could develop a two-day a week routine, a three-day routine, or a six-day routine. Variety is the spice of life and the way we keep progressing. Same-ness equates to stagnation. The question is often asked of me, when should I take a day off? What is the strategy behind rest and recuperation? What is the relationship between exercise, nutrition, rest and muscle growth? Gener-alizations are dangerous since everyone is different and circumstances are never the same. In addition to weight training, a Parrillo-trained bodybuilder needs to do aerobics on a regular and systematic basis. Pre-contest bodybuilders will do aerobics twice a day in addition to regular weight training. This is a lot of work, par-ticularly since we insist the athlete train intensely whatever the discipline. Our rule of thumb is that you should take off the least amount of days you need in or-der to recuperate. If you are eating prop-erly and plentifully and getting plenty of sleep at night you can train harder, longer, heavier and more often. You hear a lot of talk on how to avoid over-training but often this is an excuse for laziness.
Over training can be avoided if you take in lots of quality calories and get plenty of deep, restful sleep. In fact, at Parrillo, if an athlete thinks they are overtraining we advise that they up their calories rather than cut back on the weight training or aerobic activity. It is tough to make progress by exercising less. If you are not making good gains and feel zapped and tired, try increasing your calories and adding another hour of sleep to your nightly allotment. Make sure you are training intensely enough to stimulate growth. What is intense enough? Push-ing the envelope and upping poundage or weights every session. Push hard and make gains, then refuel and rest. Another key recovery factor is the characteristic of the muscle itself. Large muscles need more time to recover be-tween workouts. Because big muscles are stronger you can lift more poundage and are subjected to greater stress you need longer to recover. You might find that your arms recover faster than your legs, for ex-ample. Or your triceps recover quicker than your lower back. Be aware of these muscular phenomena when scheduling your sessions. Always try to get enough sleep. If you are unable to sleep optimally your recovery will suffer and you won’t be able to train each muscle group as fre-quently. Stress can be a definite detriment to recovery. Emotional stress is a very real factor as is illness.
During stress your body produces cortisol, which helps you through the stress but has the unfortunate side effect of breaking down muscle. Cor-tisol is a catabolic hormone that breaks down muscle tissue so that the protein can be used as fuel. Illness reduces your ability to recover as your body devotes its energy to fighting the sickness rather than repairing muscle tissue. If you have a cold and don’t feel too bad, then go ahead and train. But if you have a fever or are too sick to work take a few days off from the gym . Nutrition plays an absolutely central role in the recovery process. The foods you eat supply you with the building blocks the body needs to repair itself. If you are training intensely and getting enough sleep but not eating right, then your growth potential will be severely limited. You should be getting one to two grams of protein per pound of body weight every day for optimal growth and recovery(7-10). Most bodybuilders use a protein supplement as the foundation for their nutritional program. We think the best protein on the market is our Hi-Protein Powder™ or Optimized Whey Protein™. Our whey protein is fortified with extra glutamine and branched chain amino acids. In terms of recovery and growth the two most important supple-ments are protein powder and Creatine Monohydrate . Carbohydrates are needed to maintain muscle glycogen stores . When muscle glycogen is depleted, strength and endur-ance drop off markedly(1-4).
If you are no longer getting a good pump after a set, this is a sign that you are running low on glycogen. In this case, increase your carbs by using two to four scoops of Parrillo Pro-Carb™ after your workout. This is the perfect time to supplement with carbs as they will be stored as glycogen. Don’t forget to take your vitamins and minerals. I suggest six meals a day, spaced at regu-lar intervals. Each meal should include a protein source (such as lean chicken or turkey), a starch, and a fibrous vegeta-ble. Good starches include potatoes, rice, beans, and corn. Stay away from simple sugars and refined carbohydrates such as pasta or bread. Metabolically, refined car-bohydrates behave much like simple sug-ars. Also avoid milk and fruit, which are rich in sugars. Consult the Parrillo Per-formance Nutrition Manual for detailed instructions. Adequate nutrition and sleep are two critical ingredients in achieving optimal recovery. Don’t be afraid to vary and experiment with your rest intervals and training frequency. Good luck!
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