Monday, May 25, 2015

How many days of rest should you allow for building muscle?

This particular query can't be answered with a universally numerical conclusion.  Many variables factor into how many days of rest one should have for optimal muscle building results.  However, I will go over a few scenarios in hopes that it helps paint a clearer picture.

First of all, no matter what type of Health & Fitness Guru Blog you are reading from, the best knowledge comes from personal experience.  Yeah, the stuff you have personally tried, tested and adjusted to your own genetic makeup.

While browsing through the Internet, I was surprised to see many of the health blogs saying the exact same answer, which was 24 to 48 hours of rest between workouts.  Personally, I disagree. For one, what type of workout?  How intense is it?  Are you concentrating on certain muscle groups per each workout or are you taking the shotgun approach?  How old are you?  Are you a beginner just starting to workout or are you a professional bodybuilder building massive muscles?  All of these things and many more factor into how many days of rest your muscles need for optimal growth and/or safe methods of building lean body mass.

The small groups of muscles like what are found in your forearms, for example, could be worked thoroughly almost daily while larger muscles like what are found in your chest, shoulders, hamstrings, etc., will most likely need more time to fully recover from a hard workout.  Your genetic makeup, hormone levels, overall health, age, hours of daily sleep, and so on, all affect how quickly your body recovers.

I have heard of many professional bodybuilders training 6 days a week, with only one off day.  But guess what?  They only train certain groups of muscles once a week.  Yep, so that means that they allow 7 days of rest per muscle group for building mass quantities of muscle.  However, you can rest assured that they totally tear down each muscle group during those days of pumping iron/working out.

The other thing you need to do is simply listen to your own body.  If you go back to the bench press and you still feel weak from a workout you did a couple days ago, wait a few more days before trying again.  I try to wait an extra day or two after I feel ready for another intense weightlifting session.  Always try to keep in mind, your muscles grow when you are resting, not when working 'em to the point of exhaustion.

With that being said, aerobic-style workouts don't really need "days of rest" in between, but it never hurts to have a couple off days during the week, right?  As for building muscle, lifting weights, intense training, etc., I like to take 6 to 7 days off between working that same muscle again.  For optimal gains, even if I was in a big rush, I still wouldn't want to take any less than 4 or 5 days off, but that's just my opinion; cheers!

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Does Vitamin C help with Muscle Soreness?

Now here is another debatable subject in the health & fitness genre...  Does the antioxidant properties of the beloved Vitamin C really have much impact when concerning muscle soreness?  I suppose the best answer may be:  "It couldn't hurt."

Before we go any further, there are now major debates and issues with what causes muscle soreness.  Yeah, can you believe that?  Ha!  But seriously, now that many trending scientific articles say that lactic acid isn't to blame for that delayed soreness you feel after an intense workout the next day or even the day after the next, things have gotten a bit complicated and, uh, stupid.

Of course lactic acid buildup would actually cause soreness, but since the lactic acid is said to leave the area quickly after your moments of exertion, they are blaming it mostly on microscopic muscle tears.  This sounds cute and all, but why can you simply get sore from an odd movement, prolonged flexing, or even cramps, for example?  Does that involve microscopic tissue tears?  LOL! Muscular acidosis can occur any time your oxygen is depleted in a certain area of your muscles, but that's another subject.

Before anybody gets their panties in a wad, of course a lot of the soreness comes from muscle tears and strains, whether it is micro or macro in size.  However, to sweep lactic acid under the rug while ignoring all of the other metabolic byproducts that occur at the scene of stress during strenuous exercise, is a bit ignorant to say the least.  At any rate, let's just drop the whole "what causes muscle soreness?" debate, and quickly move right through this Vitamin C craze.

In a thumbnail, Vitamin C can help pull out some of the acid buildup and byproducts that puddle around the strained muscles in question.  It is no miracle cure or anything, but there is some evidence that shows it could help.  The inflammation and tissue damage that occurs is a good thing, though, if you plan on building bigger muscles.  As you should all know, your muscles grow while resting, not when getting worked and/or stripped down during intense exercise. I've read some scientific evidence before that states that taking too many anti-inflammatory substances to combat muscle soreness may actually hinder the recovery process.  Hey, what's that old adage again: "No pain; no gain!"  Anyway...

Vitamin C can also help build collagen, which is very important for the repair of connective tissues, muscles, etc.  In fact, if you don't believe me, perform a quick web search with the keywords "collagen helps build muscles" or "how exercising produces collagen" or "vitamin c helps build collagen," and so on.

I may have slightly got off topic here, but the point is, Vitamin C definitely doesn't hurt anything when concerning muscle soreness and the recovery process. 

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Eating every 3 hours is not required for Bodybuilding

This particular 'frequent eating for bodybuilding' subject has really gained momentum over the last few years.  I'm not exactly sure why, but, like most things, it has probably propagated online more than anywhere else.

At any gluttonous rate, there are some pros to eating smaller, more frequent meals for some folks. Will it ultimately lead to enhanced muscle growth?  Not normally.  I'm yet to see any conclusive evidence that proves that eating protein (or whatever) every 3 hours is required for enhanced muscle growth, when compared to the traditional 3 meals a day - with or without a few snacks.

Two primary food-related things to factor in outside of your exercise regimen for the semi-normal person that isn't taking steroids and/or growth hormones:  1) Total caloric intake 2) Quality protein intake

3 meals of the same caloric value as 6, 7, or 8 meals shouldn't make a difference when concerning muscle growth and/or bodybuilding.  Since protein is overrated, it shouldn't be hard for a human being living in the 21st century to find enough quality protein with 3 fairly balanced meals per day.  However, since the body can only process so much protein at once, it would be a good idea to somewhat spread it out as opposed to consuming 90% of your protein in one meal.  You know, common sense can go a long way; ha!

Perhaps where this "eating every 3 hours is required for building massive muscles" thing gets more credit, is from the steroid-abusing bodybuilding freaks that inject "juice," workout constantly and eat all day to achieve monster status.  If that is your goal, then please ignore this common sense post.  I'm not about to type out a long post about the dangers of PEDs (performance enhancing drugs) or steroids, etc.  It is your body and it is up to you to decide on how you want to tax it.  And no, I'm not talking about natural supplements like Force Factor - Natural Testosterone Boosters. On the other hand, I did once write a post about alcohol abuse and how to combat the withdrawal symptoms.

In conclusion, this post was merely written in an opinion-style and didn't really provide scientific evidence for or against frequent eating for enhanced muscle gains. However, I have read numerous scientific pages and claims from both sides in the past, and my opinion still stands.  On the other hand, if you think that you have a valid point in favor for eating every three hours and really believe that it's required for ultimate bodybuilding, feel free to share your comments below; cheers!

If not, here is another debatable subject:

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