Rule No. 5: Rest and Recover continued...
While that tearing process is vital for the muscle building activity to begin, it's really the respite in the next 48 to 72 hours that leads to muscle strength.
"Think of it like paper being torn," Schroeder says. "You've got to tape it back together before you can rip it again, and that's what a rest and recovery period allows you to do. It allows the torn muscle fibers to come together so you can tear it again." Each time you do, he says, the muscle gets stronger.
If you try working out every day, you'll not only increase your risk of injury but also work against getting the results you want. Ryan says that one of the key reasons some people don’t see results after 8 to 10 weeks of weight training is because they are simply not giving their bodies adequate time to recover.
"If you don’t see any change in your body after a few months, don’t think you need to do more. You probably need to do less," he says. "If you over train, all you get are breakdown and no buildup."
So how do you know when you're ready to hit the weights again? Ryan says to use muscle soreness and fatigue as a guide. "If you feel significant soreness, if your muscles feel fatigued, then it's too soon," he says.
Bryant says that as long as there is no injury, for most folks, the recovery process occurs within 48 to 72 hours after a workout. If you want to work out more often than that, he says, simply switch to a different area of the body for each workout.
Rule No. 6: Chow Down to Build Up
While good nutrition is vital to getting the most out of any exercise program, it's especially important for weight training. And if you're thinking fruits and vegetables, you're only partly right. Muscles also require protein.
"You need protein for your muscle to recover," says Bryant, who advises everyone doing weight training to have a snack containing both protein and carbohydrates after every workout.
Ryan says that adding some extra protein to your diet, while cutting down on refined carbohydrates, sugars, and "bad" fats like saturated and trans fats can help you see results sooner.