Did you know that it’s not your workout that makes you stronger? Although aerobic exercise and strength training are essential, your strength and fitness gains are actually made during your recovery from a workout, not the workout itself.
You can maximize your fitness and strength gains from every workout by making sure your body actually recovers from the stress and challenges of your training. To do this, it is important to understand the nature of your muscles. Your muscles are packed with an energy source called glycogen. Glycogen is a form of sugar that your body uses as a fuel during exercise. While you exercise, your glycogen stores decrease but they can be replenished during your recovery from exercise. When you finish exercising and consume a meal containing carbohydrates, sugars pass through the blood stream, and eventually enter your muscle cells where they are converted to glycogen. Soon you can use this glycogen as the fuel for your next workout. The replenishment of your muscle glycogen is maximized in a short window of opportunity within one hour of your workout, so it is important to consume a meal or snack containing carbohydrates as soon as you leave the gym.
During rigorous exercise, you are actually creating small micro-tears in your muscle fibers. When your body repairs these micro-tears, the result is increased strength and lean muscle mass. However, to repair these muscle fibers, your body must have the amino acids from proteins to use as building blocks. Amino acids are smaller molecules that connect together in a specific sequence to create proteins throughout your body. When you eat a meal consuming proteins, they are broken down into amino acids, pass through your blood stream, and used throughout your body to build new proteins specific to your genetic make-up. Again, this is a time sensitive process and you need to supply your body with these essential amino acids soon after you finish your workout by consuming a meal or snack containing protein.
Complete nutrition is necessary to maximize recovery from your intense workouts. This replenishes the fuel you used during the workout, repairs muscle tissues, and boosts your metabolism. Make sure you consume a meal or snack containing a blend of proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats within one hour of finishing your workout to really gain the benefits of your hard work. When you maximize your recovery, you provide the fuel and building blocks required to get stronger.