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One of the side benefits of doing intense workouts is the feeling you get afterwards. It’s called the ‘pump’. You are sweaty, your veins are dilated and the muscles you exercised are taught. Runners get a similar feeling called ‘runners high’.

What is it ?

The pump is caused by increased blood flow to the muscles being worked and a corresponding temporary increase in muscle size up to hours after you finish your workout. For example, if you are doing squats and performing them correctly – three to four sets to failure – you will have a higher blood volume going into your quads (muscles at the front of your thigh) giving you a feeling of strength and expanded muscles.

How do you keep that feeling?

To get the ‘pump’ you need to work a particular muscle group to failure with each set. This means doing the set to the point where your last repetition causes you to fight for it. If you are doing bench presses then you last repetition may call for a spotter to help you complete it.

Getting the pump is a great feeling when it happens. There is however a draw back to trying to get this feeling each time you workout and it’s called over-training. This happens when you exercise your muscles to the point where they become weak from the excess work you put them through. You are tearing down muscle tissue but not giving your body time enough to heal and recover. I have learned over time the importance of giving my body time to rest and recover after an intense training session.

Unless you are a bodybuilder there’s no need to train specific muscle groups more than twice in a week and never on consecutive days. For example, don’t do shoulder presses two days in a row.

To get and keep that pumped feeling, keep these things in mind – stay hydrated, keep rest periods between sets short and do an abbreviated or no cardio session before lifting weights. (remember to always warmup before exercising) And most important . . . you need to feed you body the right nutrition.

The importance of diet

Giving your body the types of food that will nourish it and replenish lost energy after an intense workout routine is when your body will experience growth and strength. While you are exercising you are shredding muscle tissue. During your recovery stage you need to supply those muscles with the proper nutrients to replenish lost energy.

Learning to give your muscles proper rest and recovery will go a long way in preventing muscle weakness due to over-training.

There are two phases to proper dieting to realize the great benefits of exercising. There is the pre-workout meal and post workout meal. Prior to doing an intense workout it’s important to give your body something to work on. Don’t depend on yesterdays’ meal because it has already been used up.

You need to have a meal approximately two hours before you begin your workout. It should be made up of the proper mixture of protein, carbs and good fats. You will also need to have a enough water before, during and after  your workout to keep your body hydrated. And of course a proper meal after you have finished your routines. I like to have a protein drink within an hour after my exercises. In addition to a protein drink I like to actually eat some food – whether it’s a sandwich or a salad. I think it’s important to give your body solid food and not depend solely on a drink for nourishment.

Giving your body proper rest is especially important for full recovery from your intense exercise routine. Seven to eight hours is the norm. If you need to take a nap during the day then do so but as part of your recovery quality sleep is necessary. This is when your body completes the digestion process and heals and restores energy.

Go to How to Prevent Pre-diabetes now for further discussion and the necessary steps to get the ‘pump’.

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