We know how important it is to exercise. But it’s just as important to make sure you’re exercising right.
Working your muscles too hard can be painful and drain your energy. It also weakens your immune system and your body’s response to stress.1
It increases your cortisol levels which can eventually lead to adrenal fatigue. This disrupts hormone levels and sabotages your physical performance.2
In the end, if you aren’t working out the right way, you may be doing more harm than good. But here are the top five ways to prevent working your muscles too hard:
Stay Hydrated – It’s smart to drink water when you’re working out. Water quenches your thirst when you’re working up a sweat and keeps your body performing at its best.3 But that’s not all…
Proper hydration outside of the gym will help your performance in the gym. If you aren’t properly hydrated all the time, your muscles get weaker.4 This can make even the easiest workout feel like boot camp. Drink plenty of water throughout the day and avoid sugary sports drinks.
Load Up on Antioxidants – There’s no way around it: exercise is a form of stress. Luckily, putting more antioxidants in your diet can reduce the short-term oxidative stress associated with exercise.5 Alpha-lipoic acid and omega-3 are powerful antioxidants and they’re anti-inflammatory. A little dark chocolate and coffee are powerful antioxidants too. Just don’t go overboard.
Don’t Lose Sleep – Though we’re capable of amazing feats, humans are pretty fragile. We break easily. Rest and recovery are essential to physical performance. Missing out on sleep can prevent your body from producing enough human growth hormone (HGH). HGH repairs and restores your muscles and keeps your energy levels high.
Less is More – You don’t have to spend three hours a day exercising to get good results. Quality matters more than quantity when it comes to exercise.
Try interval training in place of long stretches of cardio. You’ll get better results. To do this, run or walk as fast as you can until you’re huffing and puffing to get your heart rate up. When you hit that point, ease to a walk to get your heart down. Repeat this for about 10 minutes.6 Not only will you see results, you’ll have more time to enjoy life outside of the gym.
Time Your Carbs – Exercising depletes your muscles of glycogen. Your muscles use glycogen as fuel and it helps with recovery.
Carbohydrates convert to glycogen. If you’re exercising too intensely, your body will crave more carbohydrates to keep up with the demand. Moderate exercise doesn’t increase your need for extra carbohydrates. But if you want your muscles to recover faster, you can eat 15-30 grams of carbohydrates after you exercise—within 30 minutes to 2 hours. Eating during this time doesn’t require your body to use as much insulin to convert those carbohydrates to glycogen. This keeps your sugar levels in check and helps your muscles recover.
You can overwork your muscles before you realize it’s happening. It’s easy to overtrain and not even realize it. Following these simple tips and listening to your body will keep you on track for success!