Friday, February 10, 2012

The Most Important 'Muscle'

Last night when I was finished my bench/pull-up/dip routine, I had some extra energy - and time. I hopped on the treadmill and just started walking. I like walking. Whether it's around the neighborhood with my dog or on a treadmill in the gym, I find that when I'm walking is pretty much the only time my mind is totally free to meander wherever it wants to. I started thinking...

Despite the fact that I'm fighting a cold and hadn't slept well in a day or two, I felt really, really great. I wanted to run or even maybe do some HIIT intervals to help ignite my fat burning furnace. But then the voice of my coach echoed in my head, "When on a cut, don't be stupid and do too much."

My coach, Andy.
Well, maybe those weren't his exact words, but the general idea is spot on. Regardless of how good I feel or how impatient I'm getting with the snail's pace of fat loss I'm experiencing, too much training volume or intensity will only be counterproductive as it will impair my recovery and put added stress on my central nervous system (CNS). Hell, that stupid bench pyramid routine I did on Sunday is probably the reason this cold was able to take hold of me in the first place. Simply put, I did too much. I compromised my immune system. Now I'm paying the price in sniffles and swollen sinuses. Lesson learned.

While none of you would disagree that the "no" muscle is the most important muscle to exercise when dieting, you may not realize its effect on your training as well. Rest = Recovery. It's a simple equation, really. Contrary to popular opinion, we don't actually build muscle in the gym. No; the gym is where we tear it down. We push, pull, lift, strain, and do all manner of cruel things to our muscles when we train - none of which leaves room for simultaneous growth. We grow when we rest because then, and only then, is our body able to repair the damage we have done and respond to the added requirements by building the new bonds that result in lean tissue growth.

This is the same reason nutrient timing is so critical for optimal muscle growth. If you pig out before you train when your muscles are heavy with glucose, nutrients and calories that would be used for recovery and repair had they been consumed post workout basically go to waste - or worse, to you're waistline.

Exercise your "no" muscle as often as you can. Saying no to over training is as critical to your success as saying no to that cookie or brownie. (Unless it's a special occasion, of course!)

And keep walking. I did.


Emy Barkhimer said...

Right on, Jenn. Fantastic post.

Jess said...

Love it, great perspective.

It's odd; when it comes to dieting, people think more (eating) is less (successful) and when it comes to training, they think less (recovery) is more (gains).

ass-backwards :)