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The easiest way to achieve new muscle growth

Der einfachste Weg neues Muskelwachstum zu erreichen

Recovery is what's responsible for gains

If you ask someone what their recovery plan looks like, you'll probably hear something like "unload", which means one or two days off training and not much more. And that is unacceptable. If recovery is where the magic happens, how is it that exercisers treat it like a salad dressing instead of part of the main course?

Here's why: fear and impatience. They think their muscles will shrink or suddenly disappear under a layer of fat if they don't always push themselves to their limits in the gym.

But most experienced exercisers will tell you how a period of enforced rest (illness or injury) has led them to unexpected gains. Even after a whole month without any training at all, you might find that your body does the unimaginable: it looks fuller, harder and better than before.

Yet these same experienced exercisers will continue to suffer from the irrational fear of losing their gains. All they know is "max volume, move the heaviest weights possible, hustle, no days off training, go to extremes!" In their mind, these are the things that make someone muscular and defined.

Whether you use the term overtrained or under-regenerated (which is ultimately just semantic hair-splitting anyway), the point is that the fear of taking time off is neither based on anecdotal experience nor scientific knowledge.

The consequences of impatience

Patience is one of the hardest virtues to master, and training with weights is no exception - even though exercisers continually hear that building muscle is a slow process. And spending even more time in the gym won't speed up the process if the work you've already done has been good enough to stimulate growth. Most exercisers need to experience the effects of this before they truly realize it.

If you have initiated the growth process through training, then more training will not accelerate it - it may even become the thing that stops you from making progress. Once the growth response has been initiated by training, it's all about eating, sleeping and recovering.

So are you bad at recovering? Be honest. If so, then it's time for a recovery protocol. Make this your priority - a priority that starts with understanding what regeneration actually is.

Local vs. systemic regeneration

There are two types of regeneration: local, muscle-specific regeneration and systemic regeneration, which can be a little more arbitrary, but is also much more important.

Local regeneration

This means that the muscles you have trained during exercise have gone through the process of regeneration in relation to the amount of stress you have put them under. The harder the work and the higher the volume, the longer the process of local recovery will take.

However, you can train a muscle if you feel soreness in it and one of the best ways to speed up recovery from soreness is to pump some blood into that muscle. The advice not to train a muscle if you feel soreness in it is outdated.

Systemic regeneration

Your nervous system does not live in a training vacuum. Everything besides training - your entire lifestyle - has an impact on how challenged or recovered you are.

But training stress and life stress are intertwined. Your body doesn't know if you're about to do a deadlift max repetition or if you've reached your limits with your boss or your wife. All it knows is that it needs to release norepinephrine and epinephrine in response to these situations and spread cortisol everywhere.

You may have had a bad day when you left your job and were totally stressed. So you did the macho thing and said to yourself "I'm stressed so I'm going to do a few sets of heavy deadlifts". You think this will relieve stress, but it's actually another stressor. And then you spent the next two days wondering why you were completely exhausted. It's like a full body hangover.

Homeostasis is your friend

Regeneration is when your body returns to its baseline state. This is basically homeostasis. When one system is upregulated, an opposing system must be downregulated until balance is restored. Regeneration can only take place when these two systems - whatever systems they may be - are in harmony with each other again.

For systemic regeneration to take place, there must be a give and take relationship that allows homeostasis to be restored in the autonomic nervous system, which consists of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.

Sympathetic nervous system

The sympathetic nervous system is your fight or flight response - the "I'm about to punch my boss in the face, so I'm going to do some heavy reps of deadlifts at the gym instead." Reaction. You activate it in the gym before your heaviest set. Every time you activate this system, the following happens immediately:

  • The adrenal glands are activated and release some epinephrine (aka adrenaline).
  • Cortisol levels rise, blood pressure rises. The immune system is suppressed and fatty acids are converted into available energy.
  • Your body prepares for a big, aggressive muscle action - or to run away.

If you reach this point too often, here's what happens:

  • Sexual impotence
  • Reduced longevity (a nice way of saying you'll die early).

If you want to be unable to have sex and die early, then by all means, keep your aggressive music cranked up while you pound the steering wheel.

The parasympathetic nervous system

This is the "rest and digest" system. It works in the opposite way to what the sympathetic nervous system does. Here are a few benefits associated with the parasympathetic nervous system:

  • Better sex
  • Better sleep, which means a higher rate of fat oxidation
  • Lower blood sugar levels
  • Increased longevity

You can't find your regeneration baseline until you learn to do something that jumpstarts you. To speed up the regeneration process, you should have an appropriate function of regeneration for each action of stimulation. And while you may not like to hear this, if you were smart enough you would know that doing heavy deadlifts after a very stressful day at work is a pretty bad idea.

Summary: Every stress response requires a stress-relieving response, which helps to ensure recovery, which in turn will lead to increased performance, progress and gains.

Do you think heavy squats are what will relieve stress for you?

They are not. They may distract you from stress at work or stress in other life situations, but they are still another form of stress. Your opinion on this is irrelevant. You can't take your body for a fool.

I'm not saying you shouldn't do deadlifts, but taking a walk and clearing your head and then finding ways to laugh and get out of yourself is better. Then do deadlifts the next day, as this approach will almost certainly lead to a more productive training session.

Try it out. Evaluate the effects of this over a few weeks. Compensate for a stressful day with something that allows your parasympathetic nervous system to respond.

How you can put together a regeneration plan

1 - Create a free space

The most successful people in the world have a morning ritual. A big part of setting the trend for the day starts the moment you open your eyes. What are you opening your eyes and mind to? Stress, worry, anxiety or irritation?

Here's a tip for life: In all likelihood, whatever is bothering you or whatever problem you have in life cannot be solved in this moment. And even if it can be solved, there's a good chance it can wait.

Start your day by letting go of worry, anxiety and stress. This is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself in terms of regeneration. It may take some practice if you are the type of person who naturally worries about everything.

If you want to worry about things or get upset about something, then do so. But allow yourself to take care of yourself for half an hour in the morning so that you can start the day with a clear head and a relaxed body. After all, stressful situations may arise during the day or you may have to do a few sets of heavy deadlifts in the afternoon. Read for half an hour or meditate a little and concentrate on relaxed breathing during this time.

Some experts recommend an evening breathing workout. They say that you should press the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth near your incisors and take seven deep breaths, breathing in and out extra slowly (for 5 seconds each) while focusing on a positive memory. This works very well for people who have trouble shutting down their mind at night. This technique stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system and will help you to focus your mind on something else and relax.

2 - Give yourself a shot of oxytocin

Oxytocin, also known as the 'love molecule', is released when you do a number of 'feel good' things such as cuddling, stroking your pet, hugging someone or being generous. The effects are both psychological and biological.

Any form of physical touch from a loved one or friend will trigger a release of oxytocin. Cuddling is like hugging on dope.

And yes, sex is also on this list, and when it's with someone you love, the oxytocin release is like a flash flood that occurs as a result of a meteor strike while a tsunami is churning up the same ocean. Yes, it's that good.

Last but not least, giving is living. Instead of getting caught up in all the growth and things you don't have, take some time to help someone who is worse off than you. Focusing your thoughts on others instead of being a self-absorbed jackass will help you increase your gains through a release of oxytocin.

Oxytocin stimulates the "rest and digest" system and promotes your recovery, which means you'll make better gains and be a better person at the same time.

3 - Use strategic carbohydrates and increase your serotonin production

Consume carbohydrates during your last meal of the day. This will boost your body's serotonin production, which will help you sleep better. Believe it or not, there are foods you can eat to promote sleep and relaxation, while other foods you should probably avoid before falling asleep.

For example, you should cut back on your protein consumption before going to bed. Even though protein is very filling, it is harder to digest, which can prevent you from relaxing while your body works to break down the protein. That's why you should eat dinner a few hours before bedtime. And if that meal is overloaded with tryptophan, that's even better.

After that, you should eat some complex carbohydrates right before you go to sleep. This may sound a little strange at first, but here's why you should consider it.

Complex carbohydrates are responsible for transporting tryptophan through the blood-brain barrier. These carbohydrates should induce an insulin surge that does not affect tryptophan, but transports the other amino acids into the cells so that tryptophan does not have to compete with them for transport into the brain. This should cause an increase in serotonin levels, which will help you relax and fall asleep while you're in the middle of your free space doing some meditation. See how all this comes together?

Combine this with a glass of sour cherry juice, which is rich in phytochemicals including melatonin, and you're laying the foundation for an amazing night's sleep.

4 - Try decompression training

Give your nervous system a break while still getting your time in the gym. What you need to do is work your muscles while focusing on two things:

  1. Deep breathing - pay attention to each inhale and exhale
  2. The mind-muscle connection - focus on the stretch and contraction of each repetition

Stop focusing on counting reps and choose a weight that doesn't require loud music to get you pumped up. If you usually listen to loud and aggressive music that makes you feel like banging your head against the bumper of a rusty truck, now is the time to choose something that makes you feel like you're sliding into a bubble bath. It's exercise, but it's meditative.

You shouldn't be wincing and grimacing in pain during each repetition. If you do, finish the set. If I were to estimate a number of reps you should do on these sets, it would be 12 to 15, but don't make these your primary focus.

On the days when you have a workout hangover or just feel drained, these types of workouts are invaluable to improve your mood and help you recover. Think of these workouts as the antithesis of your high-intensity workouts where you give it your all.


By Paul Carter

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