Train Hard Rest Well

As an aspiring athlete (I think anyone trying to get in better shape is an aspiring athlete), your need to recover from your workouts and let your body heal. Resting, not relaxation becomes critical. As you sleep your body recovers instead of just recovering from the food that we eat and the quiet times that we are not working out.

For people that live a quiet and mostly sedentary life resting tends to mean sleeping. Hopefully this was just a past life for you but one of the main things that people do in a couch potato lifestyle is just exist, you probably know what I mean, wake up groggy, coffee, maybe food, work, watch TV, eat lots of snacks and then sleep.

sleepingAs an active, health concious person a lot of this gets turned on its head. We wake up feeling more rested and before or after work we will workout and find different ways to fill our time. I always find though that I am questing for a better way to get the rest that I need.

Why Do We get Muscle Soreness?

I find that my main recovery problems are muscle soreness and muscle weakness after my workouts. There is a major food component in this but I wanted to deal with rest and recovery today only. After any kind of overload to our muscles they are broken down and we lose the glycogen and at the same time the stress on the muscles can cause some pain.

The main problem that you are dealing with when you have muscle soreness is lactic acid buildup in your muscles and the microtrauma to your muscle fibers. Everyone that has worked out has felt this and although it can be painful, you will recover in a few days after resting correctly.

Rest and Recovery after Exercise

There are a few ways to recover after a good workout of any kind, we it a cardio or a muscle workout.

1. Stretching – Stretching should not be done before working out as it can cause you to pull cold muscles. What I find works best is to warmup the muscles and do my workout and then after every workout I stretch all of my muscles for 5 to 10 minutes. This really is the minimum as it helps build flexibility and you are in much better shape when you are flexible.

2. Sleep – as we know sleep is really really important. I know that I need 8 hours of sleep a night and the more you workout the deeper your sleep will be. There are a few things that we can do to get better sleep. I find that having quiet time for the hour before I go to sleep helps, studies actually show that if you have no TV, computer, or iPhone then you will fall asleep easier and I have to agree even though I will usually listen to a podcast as I am falling asleep. Also the darker your room is the better you will sleep, and keep the temperature down in your room.

3. Baths – Having a warm bath after you have cooled off will work well for your muscles. Baths are very soothing and many people say that having a bath with epson salts will help soothe sore muscles even better.

4. Meditation – I am very bad for neglecting this but there are many great changes in your physiology that happen when you meditate on a regular basis. The act of meditation also puts your mind in a more sleeplike beta level which helps concentration and restfulness as well.

These are a few of the things that you can do to improve recovery after your workouts. Why not add some of your own in the comments below?

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How hard to push when starting exercise

I always worry about how people get started or restarted doing exercise. The trouble is that we are all excited to get started and run or workout and feel tired but the next day for a week wake up in excrutiating pain and do not want to ever go through that again.

I know this because I have done that too.

I find that for the first week or two that you start or restart serious exercise it is best to ramp yourself up. We all want to be instantly fit but you have to  work up to it or you will never get there without giving up because of muscle soreness (Biggest Loser never shows this). I was thinking about this yesterday in the gym and how it is nice to push as hard as I can to make gains knowing that I will be in fantastic shape in a month but also knowing that day to day for the first week I will be making gains mostly in building mental toughness and improving my agility, balance, and joint strength.

Don’t get me wrong, I am working hard but my weight workouts are to failure with fewer sets so I am still a bit sore but not enough to slow me down at all. Excitement is great but overexertion will really hurt and if you pull something or get joint or back pain it can really set you back.

So if you are starting out, or are sore today remember that the pain goes away and you should not be sore day to day after the initial bit of pain. Get through it or just work your way up.

If you do get sore there are a few things you can do to get rid of that muscle soreness.

A warm bath is always nice. You can use a  heating pad alternating with ice on your muscles. Also I have taken aspirin in the past to just dull the pain, and finally stretching, stretch those muscles lots whether sore or not to get rid of the lactic acid buildup and to help your flexability.

Constistency is key. make sure you are getting some kind of exercise everyday even light walking or biking and if you are doing weight workouts make sure you are giving a day in between. I try to get at least two to three hard cardio workouts a week and two to four weight workouts a week as well.

Here is an article I wrote on starting Weightlifting

And here is another on starting exercise itself

I want to dive into more detail but sometimes that more you know the more confusing these things can be. Just get out and get some exercise, ok?

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AntiOxidants for sports and fitness

Here is information from eVitamins on the value of Antioxidants for sports

Why do athletes use it?*
Some athletes say that antioxidants help protect the body from free radicals.
What do the advocates say?*
Antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, CoQ10, glutathione, and alpha lipoic acid are important supplements for everyone, but especially for those who exercise on a regular basis. The rational is that exercise is a highly oxidative process and, as a consequence, produces free radicals from aerobic metabolism. Antioxidant compounds help alleviate this process.

There is conflicting evidence whether the best time to supplement with an antioxidant is before or after a workout.

How much is usually taken by athletes?
Most research has demonstrated that strenuous exercise increases production of harmful substances called free radicals, which can damage muscle tissue and result in inflammation and muscle soreness. Exercising in cities or smoggy areas also increases exposure to free radicals. Antioxidants, including vitamin C and vitamin E, neutralize free radicals before they can damage the body, so antioxidants may aid in exercise recovery. Regular exercise increases the efficiency of the antioxidant defense system, potentially reducing the amount of supplemental antioxidants that might otherwise be needed for protection. However, at least theoretically, supplements of antioxidant vitamins may be beneficial for older or untrained people or athletes who are undertaking an especially vigorous training protocol or athletic event.

Placebo-controlled research, some of it double-blind, has shown that taking 400 to 3,000 mg of vitamin C per day for several days before and after intense exercise may reduce pain and speed up muscle strength recovery.3 4 5 However, taking vitamin C only after such exercise was not effective in another double-blind study.6 While some research has reported that vitamin E supplementation in the amount of 800 to 1,200 IU per day reduces biochemical measures of free-radical activity and muscle damage caused by strenuous exercise,7 8 9 several studies have not found such benefits,and no research has investigated the effect of vitamin E on performance-related measures of strenuous exercise recovery. A combination of 90 mg per day of coenzyme Q10 and a very small amount of vitamin E did not produce any protective effects for marathon runners in one double-blind trial,14 while in another double-blind trial a combination of 50 mg per day of zinc and 3 mg per day of copper significantly reduced evidence of post-exercise free radical activity.15

In most well-controlled studies, exercise performance has not been shown to improve following supplementation with vitamin C, unless a deficiency exists, as might occur in athletes with unhealthy or irrational eating patterns.16 17 Similarly, vitamin E has not benefited exercise performance,18 19 except possibly at high altitudes.

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