If there as anything a “bro” can’t stand…it’s losing gainz. Yes, it’s spelled with a z. You can find it. In the dictionary. The bro dictionary.
But in all seriousness, gains are the reason most people go to the gym. Whether someone is trying to gain more muscle or see strength gains, gains are the goal of training.
But could you be sabotaging your gains??
There are a handful of things that some people do that could be holding them back from their full “gainz” potential.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, are a commonly used classification of meds that is used for pain relief. Your common brands of NSAIDs are Motrin, Aleve, Advil, and any of their generic variations.
Some lifters will use NSAIDs to relieve the delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) that can be associated with a hard training session. DOMS is believed to be associated with the tissue damage caused by your workouts in the muscle. This microtrauma to your muscles triggers a cascade of processes to help rebuild the muscle, including the inflammatory process.
So since the inflammatory process is key to rebuilding your muscles after a workout, does it seem effective to pop pain killers to deal with the associated muscle soreness? If your goal is to maximize muscle growth in your workouts, this may not be the best course of action for adaptation.
Just like NSAIDs, cryotherapy is another modality that some people use to fight muscle soreness after a strenuous workout. Commonly people will brave frigid ice baths to help alleviate their soreness.
Just like NSAIDs, cryotherapy has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body but do we really want to blunt the inflammatory process that is critical to recovery and repair of muscle tissue?
If you are needing to perform in say a powerlifting meet or a sporting event in the next couple days, then sure an ice bath may be effect in alleviating your soreness and allowing you to perform at your best. But if you are just trying to get bigger and stronger and look better naked, then cryotherapy may be limiting your “gains”.
Lack of Sleep
Sleep is the ultimate performance enhancer. In fact Jake Tuura, strength coach at Youngstown State, called it the ultimate pre-workout as well.
If you are tired because you only got 4 hours of sleep the night before, focusing on your workout can be a challenge. But lack of sleep can also hurt your recovery.
During sleep, this is the time where growth hormone release is at its highest. And if getting bigger and stronger is the goal, then you want to bathe in growth hormone (it’s not possible, but hopefully you get the analogy). Growth hormone is essential for repair and growth of muscle tissue.
So if your sleep total looks more like a 2 hour nap, you may be holding your progress back. Getting 7-9 hours of sleep a night is what the typical gym rat needs, so stop binging on Netflix and go to bed.
Stress is defined as pressure or tension exerted on an object. For humans stress can come in both physical and psychological form.
Physical stress can be from working out or even environmental stressors. But physical stress applied correctly can lead to adaptation.
Psychological stress can come from work, family, or many other parts of life.
Where many people go wrong is allowing too much stress in their lives to where it becomes detrimental to their health. Dealing with stress takes energy, energy that the body could be using for something else like repair muscles after a hard workout.
Stress can also cause the body to be in a more sympathetic, or “fight or flight”, state which can slow recovery from workouts. The more time we spend in a parasympathetic state the more effective our recovery will be.
So bro…just chill.