It’s vital that you understand one important fact: you MUST take time to recover between training sessions if you’re serious about losing weight.
Working out is only half of what it takes to build muscle. If all it took to build muscle was lifting weights, most of us would live in the gym. But you’d end up missing a very important element: the recovery.
You see, your body needs time to recover from the workout. The more we exercise during a workout, the greater the muscle catabolism(degradation). The strain of lifting heavy objects damages the muscle fibers, so your body has to make repairs to the muscle tissue. It does so by increasing the amount of energy the muscle can store. This is why your muscles grow over time–it’s your body’s way of increasing energy storage.
At the end of your workout, you’re exhausted because you’ve burned through the energy currently stored in your muscles. You just can’t keep working, so you have to stop. This is when your body needs some down time. By taking time to recover from your workout, you will give your body time to repair the damaged muscle tissue, and will replenish the energy you’ve burned.
But what happens if you don’t give yourself a break? 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. You end up setting your diet back simply because you pushed your body too hard, and now it’s responding to the strain. You’ll end up burning fewer calories, which could prevent further weight loss or even lead to weight gain! This can also cause a “muscle plateau”, when you are no longer making progress in terms of muscular strength and size.
So what can be done about it? How can you avoid this problem? Simple: take time off! If you work your chest one day, don’t work it the next day. The same goes for your back, your biceps, and every other muscle in your body! Give your muscles no less than 48 hours between training sessions. If you’ve worked every muscle in your body one day, do cardio the next. Take that time to recover, and you’ll restore your body to optimal function by the time you hit your next workout.
Here are a few more tips to help your muscles recover:
- Keep protein intake high. Your body needs protein in order to make the repairs to damaged muscles, as well as produce more energy for your muscles. Eat plenty of high quality protein at each meal.
- Keep calorie intake consistent. Don’t cut too many calories, as that will sap your energy during your workouts. Trim no more than 500 calories per day.
- Rest well. Make sure to get a solid 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night, and make sure it’s quality sleep. Set a sleep schedule and stick to it!
- Organize your workouts. Every day should focus on a different muscle or muscle group. That way, you won’t end up working out the same muscles two days in a row.
- Take it easy at first. If you’re new to exercise and resistance training, give your body time to get accustomed to the intense exercise. Start out slow and with low intensity, and work your way up to full steam over time.