Sleep for strength
We hear a lot that sleep is so important. It’s important for our brain, our energy and yes, muscle recovery. Sleep, especially REM sleep plays a crucial role in our body’s ability to recover. When we are in REM sleep your body releases muscle building hormones as well as human growth hormones. These hormone help build and repair the muscles that stressed and tight. REM sleep allows for the body to completely relax and release tension. This is the type of sleep that makes you feel the most rested. If you do not get enough sleep your muscles may pay the price. You might notice fatigue, weakness, and even lack of mental clarity. These factors can impact our strength training routines and can cause us to feel unmotivated. So if you plan to hit the gym tomorrow consider how much sleep you are getting. Getting 7-9 hours of sleep will help with muscle coordination and recovery!
Build strength with resistance bands
Resistance bands are a great way to add strength training into your workout, without having to use weights. Most resistance bands come with different levels of resistance, so that you can increase weight as you gain strength. They can be used for many exercises like hip bridges, squats and even for upper body movements like banded pull a parts. These take the place of weights allowing you to get resistance in your exercises without have to use a barbell or dumbbells.
Just like weights, they come in all different resistances, making them versatile for anyone! Resistance band can be used alone but also use in addition to weights. For example, when doing barbell squats one may use a resistance band around their highs (right above the knee) to up the intensity, as well as forcing the knees to stay pushed out creating the burn sensation in the glutes!
Bands are a great piece of equipment that can help get you started with strength training, or up the intensity!
Getting your heart rate up while strength training
Getting your heart rate up doesn’t just require cardiovascular exercises. When strength training there are ways that you can increase your heart rate and intensity without stepping on any cardio equipment.
Adding in supersets (two strength training exercises back to back) is a great way to get the hear rate up. When performing supersets, there is no rest between exercise, but after the set is over. By incorporating supersets into your workouts you can get a bigger bang for your buck in the gym.
Over time our bodies adapt to whatever stress we may put on it. Whether it is running, biking and, yes, lifting. When our bodies adapt, some may think that that’s where progress stops. Linear progression is the increase of weight being used over time. What does this do for our bodies you may ask? It puts stress on the muscles forcing them to work harder and adapt.
When linear progression is implemented into a strength training routine, it will result in strength and muscle growth. You don’t have to switch things up every week to notice results. By keeping things simple and slowly increase weight week by week, you’ll be able to push past that plateau you may think you’re in.
Carbohydrates Around Strength Training
Food fuels our days and our workouts. When we aren’t consuming enough food, we pay for it with low energy, lack of motivation and loss of glycogen stores. Glycogen is the main storage form for glucose (starches and sugars) in the body. So, what do carbohydrates have to do with strength training? Well to keep it short and sweet, carbohydrates are the primary energy source for strength training!
Our bodies store glycogen within the muscles. Glycogen is made up of complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates take much longer to digest and store in the body. Things like oatmeal, potatoes, brown rice and whole-grains are all complex carbs. It is ideal to eat these 2-3 hours before strength training. Eating complex carbohydrates 2-3 hours before training gives your body enough time to digest the nutrients and store them, giving your muscles the energy needed for strength training.
Glucose is the fast-acting carbohydrate. Foods like fruit, honey, white rice, and pretzels are all considered to be simple carbohydrates. These foods take very little energy to digest in the body and are considered quick energy sources. The best way to utilize these carbohydrates is to consume them 30 minutes to an hour before strength training. Simple carbohydrates are great for the days you didn’t have time to get complex carbohydrates 2-3 hours prior to strength training.
By timing majority of your carbohydrates around your strength training, you are able to utilize more of the food you eat before and after. Our bodies not only use protein to aid in muscle recovery, but it also uses carbohydrates! Everyone’s bodies and metabolisms are different, so it is important to learn about your body and metabolism to find what ratios work best for you!