There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to building muscle, but the biggest misconception of all will have to be rest periods. Many people think that the best way to build muscle is to keep working your muscles over and over again. And that makes sense, after all you do have to work your muscles in order to see any real muscle growth. But the reality is that if you are trying to build muscle mass, taking time to let your body rest is just as important as taking the time to strengthen your muscles.
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Why You Need To Rest
Having rest periods in between your muscle building workouts is crucial for your success. Our muscles were simply not designed to keep working without taking a break in between. Anytime you are working your muscles you are actually building up hydrogen ions and lactic acid. This is not a bad thing, and in fact in smaller doses your body will not be harmed at all by this. But when you are working out, both of these things can really start to build up in your system.
When this happens, your muscles will not be able to perform as well as they should. The result is that you will feel tired much more easily and you won’t be getting the best out of your workouts. As you can imagine, you will never be able to reach your muscle building goals this way.
But what’s even worse is both hydrogen ions and lactic acid will stop a majority of the protein you ingest from ever reaching your muscles. Protein plays a major role in helping your body to build muscle, so anytime that your muscles are not receiving protein you are hindering your body’s ability to build muscle.
Rest periods are also important because of the way that the body works. When you lift weights, you are creating tiny tears in the muscle. This doesn’t hurt but it does take some time for these tears to heal. Your rest period will allow those tears to heal so that the muscle can grow and you can continue to lift weights and gain muscle mass.
What Makes a Good Rest Period?
After a heavy muscle building workout, it is a good idea to rest for at least 24 hours, but no longer than 48 hours. For instance, if you do your major strength training on Monday evening, you could go back to the gym as late as Wednesday evening and still not lose any of the progress that you have been trying to make through strength training.
During your rest period, you can still work out, you just can’t work out the same muscles that you are resting. For instance you could work on your arms on Monday, your Abs on Tuesday, your legs on Wednesday and go back to your arms on Thursday. Of course, it is a good idea to take at least one day of total rest from working out at least once a week to give your entire body a break. Many people have discovered the secret to muscle growth is working out three to five days a week with one rest day every two to three days.