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To build muscle, two metabolic processes are needed. One is the catabolic process, which happens whenever your body breaks down tissue, and the other is the anabolic process, which involves making repairs. To achieve the greatest results from bodybuilding, you must minimize the effects of being in a catabolic state, and here are some practical ways you can do that.
Many people work out in the morning before eating breakfast. This causes your body to prematurely go into a catabolic state because you do not have any carbohydrates for energy or protein for building muscle. Eating a light but healthy breakfast consisting of lots of protein and carbohydrates will provide you with enough fuel for energy, and prevent muscle fibers from being broken down. When exercising at other times of the day, drink a protein shake before or during your workout, particularly if you plan to work out for more than one hour.
Ensuring you remain in a catabolic state only as long as necessary also requires taking adequate amounts of Vitamin C each day. Studies show that taking 1,000 mg of Vitamin C per day can reduce the amount of recovery time, while also reducing muscle soreness. Vitamin C also eliminates the negative effects of cortisol, a hormone that causes the body to break down muscle during periods of extreme stress, and is also known to lower testosterone levels and promote bone loss.
The average person requires seven to nine hours of sleep each night to restore the body. Eve Van Cauter, a researcher at the University of Chicago, notes that men who get less deep sleep than others secrete lower levels of Human Growth Hormone (HGH). Human Growth Hormone helps the body better metabolize fat, and also promotes healthy muscle growth, so lower levels of HGH could account for the body remaining in a catabolic state longer than necessary. A lack of sleep will also make it more difficult for the body to repair muscle, since you are in an anabolic state for most of the time you are asleep.
Many personal trainers recommend taking one or two days off from the gym each week to allow your body enough time to recover. Others will take a full week off every eight to 12 weeks in order to “reset” themselves. If taking time off is not an option, adjust your exercise regimen so that you are not working the same muscle groups two days in a row. Perform strength training one day and aerobics the next, or work only the upper or lower body on any given day.
Ensuring you remain in a catabolic state for the right length of time will make it easier for you to meet your workout goals. To achieve the right balance between catabolism and anabolism, consider diet, nutrition, and sleep as equally important factors in your overall fitness plan.