Training is what sparks growth, but recovery is just as important as training. Your body needs an opportunity to respond to the stress you have put on it. The human body is capable of more than we give credit for (especially a 17 year old walking testosterone factory). People still let the three legged stool fall down (training, recovery and nutrition) whether it be the recovery or nutrition part. Training seems to be most people's first priority because it is the easiest.
Adjusting Muscle Growth and Muscle Loss
The everyday average Joe in the gym going by what's on his chart will gain muscle, but he also loses almost the same amount he gains. If you increase your training frequency, shorten the length, and focus on recovery. You will grow even more and lost less muscle than you were before.
An important aspect of recovery is nutrition. Not only should you eat the right foods, but you should also eat enough of the right foods. Some people can just look at food and gain a pound, and then some can eat 3,500 calories a day and won't gain a thing. But the solution to that is to eat even more calories. The "normal diet" is good for normal people and only normal people. What I mean by "normal diet" is a bowl of cereal for breakfast, school lunch, and then eat whatever your mom or dad cooks for dinner. That's about 1,500-2,000 calories, and that's good for the average human being but not a hard training bodybuilder or athlete. The average growing boy(15-18 year old teen) requires about 3,500 calories . Studies have revealed that, depending on the sport, athletes need from 5,000 to 10,000 calories a day to recover and perform at the highest level.
It is pretty obvious that if you do not get enough sleep it will hinder your gains. The most obvious, without enough rest you will lack energy for your workouts, and a large amount of growth actually occurs during sleep. I think you should get about 9-10 hours of sleep a day. That can be either a straight 10 hour sleep or 8 hours with a 1-2 hour nap. You can also read Danial Samar's "Sleeping Tips" for more information on sleep.
The ability to relax after a workout, and to stay relaxed, is vital if you want to maximize recovery capabilities. This is because relaxation kicks in the all-important parasympathetic part of the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system is made up of nerves that control and maintain body functions without our awareness. The autonomic nervous system regulates activities like breathing, digestion, heart rate, blood flow, and glandular secretion that require no conscious effort on that part of the brain. This part of the human nervous system is made up of both the parasympathetic and sympathetic systems. The sympathetic system responds to the body's needs during periods of increased activity and emergency. The parasympathetic system responds to lessened activity and relaxation. These two systems constantly work together in a delegate balance. When one system becomes dominant, it will override the other system and take control. During training the sympathetic system will take over. Muscle recuperation and recovery after a workout are most efficiently performed under the guidance of the parasympathetic system. Relaxing after your workout stimulates the parasympathetic system, thus allowing your body to recover from the stress you have put on it. Some relaxation methods:
- Listening to soothing music
- Listening to a "relaxation tape"
- Meditation and self hypnosis
- Sipping herbal tea
- Visualizing calming scenes or situation
A cool-down session: Right after workout just do a low intensity aerobic exercise for 10-12 minutes. Massage: Cold and Hot alternating shower (cold for 30 seconds and hot for 1 minute).
Overtraining is when you work a muscle beyond its ability to recover. Then you will find muscle growth halting, and you may even lose lean muscle tissue. To achieve maximum results training must be pushed to the limit of overtraining because that is where the real growth is. I'm with Mr. Priest, I do not like the HIT system. You should listen to your body after you have couple of years of training with it. HIT if anything is undertraining. Don't get me wrong Mike Mentzer was big, but he was no Priest, Platz or Arnold in my opinion. Only over a long period of time will overtraining produce any overtraining side effects.
Symptoms of overtraining:
Elevated pulse or blood pressure. To make sure that you are not overtraining take your pulse every morning and if it is elevated 8-12 beats you should take it easy in the gym that/those day(s).
- Inability to relax, nervousness
- Loss of interest in training
- Gradual increases in soreness from one training session to the next.
- Loss of appetite
- Swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck, groin, or armpits.
- Unexplained loss in strength
- Constipation or diarrhea
Active Recovery Training
When training on the edge of overtraining you eventually have to have 2-3 weeks of active recovery training. Every session is a full-body workout, fast pace 45 minutes, and 3 times a week. Here is an example of the 2-3 weeks of active recovery training.
- 2-3 sets of pulldowns or chins superset with Bent-over rows or low cable rows.
- 2-3 sets of hack squats or leg presses superset with dips.
- 2-3 sets of bench-press superset with dips.
- 2 sets of barbell rows superset with standing press
Soreness or Injury
Some people think that training sore is overtraining. They cut back then they are not sore and they are also not growing. Just because you are sore does not mean you are overtraining. Your muscles should hurt after and ache after workout. But these hurts and aches could be gone the next day if you recover properly. And not blow it off. You should an entire hour of just pure 100% nothing and relax after your workout so that you can recover sufficiently and quickly. If you have a true hurt you should see a physician or doctor about it. That stress will take longer to recover than your muscles.