Think about this for a moment. How often would you say you make sure to incorporate all three of these elements into your workout routines, when it comes to training? All three of these components; ready, release and rest are key to developing your muscles and in turn building your desired physique.
To be honest, I would not say either element is more important, nor more beneficial than the other, as each one plays such an important role in your muscle development. In the past, I was always “that guy” who would get to the gym, head straight to the weights and pump out a workout and as soon as I was finished, grab my gear and hit the road. I have now put a great deal of focus and attention into structuring my workout routines to make sure I am taking care of my muscles and my body in general, much better.
I like to prepare for each workout with what I refer to as “ready” my muscles. I begin with a moderate warm-up of cardio to ensure I get my heart rate elevated, bring up my body temperature and to help lubricate my joints with synovial fluid. I then move on to a dynamic warm-up, which means stretching that involves movement. This warm-up prepares the muscles for activity, plus improves mobility and range of motion. The type of dynamic warm-up would vary, depending on which body parts I am planning to train that day. Now, this is the point at which my body is primed and ready for activity. Time to hit the weights and make some gains!
When I have pushed myself through a solid workout, it is now time for a cool-down to slow the heart rate, in order to prepare to release the muscles. Once my heart rate has returned to a normal rate, after completing my weight training, this is when it is time to move on to static stretching. This is a point where it is key to hold your stretches, without movement to stretch and release the built-up tension within the muscles. I have also found incredible benefits of myofascial release, the goal of which is the release the fascia (a layer of tissue that encloses the muscles). One effective way I do this is through foam rolling, or deep tissue massage therapy & Rolfing (deep tissue body work/structural integration).
This final note, is often the one that is missed just as much, if not more than the others, which is rest. In order for our muscles to complete the recovery and rebuilding process, we must allow them time to rest. Personally I find that the more intensely I train and the further into competitions I progress, the harder it is for me to allow myself the time to fully rest my muscles. This is completely opposite from what you would imagine the case to be, but it must come from my competitive drive. I find it important to remind myself that muscles will not build to their full potential, unless allowed the proper resting period.
So, for all of you out there that are hitting the gym, please take this advice and make sure to fit in to each of your workouts time to ready, release and rest your muscles. You will thank me for it when you do.