“You’re a Hard Gainer, kid! Eat all the food you can and lift all the weights you see!!” ...Sound familiar? That sounds just like every old world high school football coach I have had the pleasure of arguing with… but the sad thing is that these, like many other athletic figureheads such as PE Teachers and other youth and teen coaches, are the forefront of information for the younger generation. Luckily, the fitness world is becoming far more progressive but that’s the point here. Besides the lucky few who have had solid mentors, if you’re in your 20’s or older the concepts have already been beaten into you for years. What is missing from the equation here? RECOVERY… appropriate nutrition, rest, mobilization and movement practices make or break the progression from Skinny Mini Swag Boy to Bearded Lumberjacked Silverback Gorilla.
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You might be thinking… “Rob, I’m eating so much. My nutrition is on point!” Well, unfortunately the whole “eat what you want just to gain” method is going to land you into the cardiac wing of the hospital before it lands you on the medal podium. It’s important to periodize your nutrition just as much as you are periodizing your training year (you are, right???) progressively with goals in mind and patience in your heart. Moving on from a general eating habit, the biggest mistake one can make is to just slam food… Figure out your intake, progressively increase it over a 4 week period to allow your system to utilize it and be sure your expenditure/training accommodates it. For reference to training intensity, refer back to our previous School Of Hard Gains blog.
Rest is repeatedly the most abused method of progression in an athlete's regimen. One can’t expect to make progress without allowing their body to heal from what was previously done to it. Sleep specifically gives the body the opportunity to appropriately recover the central nervous system and endocrines to avoid that “burn out” feeling. Now, before you start throwing around the words “over training”, remember whose blog you’re reading and stop being a bro… You definitely aren’t Over Training. Rather, you’re Under Recovering, so let's leave that at that. Sleep is key. 7-8 hours is better than nothing, but 8+ is much more preferred. Think of it like restarting your cellphone or PC… if you don’t do it, you can’t expect it to last very long.
Mobilization and movement practices go hand-in-hand. It’s important to keep your ligaments, tendons and tissues healthy and supple with appropriate Range Of Motion work. At the end of the day, supple and healthy tissues that are strong through ROM handle more work fostering more progress safely. Stretch regularly. If anything, twice a day. Utilize trigger point and myofascial release work and dynamic body weight work. It’s also important to foster appropriate Range Of Motion and balancing to begin with. I consistently chant; “Perfect Practice over Perfection”. You can’t expect to squat to depth if you aren’t practicing depth from the start... You can’t expect to develop appropriate muscle bellies if you half rep and speed rep your slow bicep curls. All it takes is a little diligence and an extra 5-10 minutes of your time.
At the end of the day, it’s all about how bad you want it and how bad you want it correctly. Put the effort in and reap the benefits… All it takes is a little extra from your end and wanting it bad enough!
Written by Rob Saeva of No Coast Strength and Conditioning
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