Learn and grow through experiences


Sports & Relaxation

Why muscles grow during relaxation

Do you engage in strength training? Then you might feel me on the rookie mistake called “overtraining”. Why is it bad to work out the same muscle group too frequently? Let’s explore this one the ExperienceZone way.

It’s all about the balance

The ExperienceZone continent Sports & Relaxation already indicates the importance of mastering both ends of the scale. In my early twenties, I used work out my arms and chest every day. Like an sports addicted, I would develop a training program, which pushed me to my physical and mental edges every day. Bear in mind: Your brain can push your body forward. A strong will is key progress in any kind of sport. However, after months into my plan, I felt frustration creeping up in me. Why’s that? Well, I plateaued. In other words: I simply wasn’t able to make that last rep. Over weeks, the man in the mirror just didn’t got stronger visually anymore. What went wrong? Overtraining. This is what Google and experiences athletes told me.

It seems like your system needs time to rest. The regeneration time differs by level: Your vegetative system regenerates after a few seconds, your cardiovascular system requires some minutes, muscles needs 24-48 hours and your joints and bones can take the next workout after a couple of days. Of course, the regeneration times are a function of your training intensity.

How do you surf the tension-relaxation waves effectively?

Over the last decades, I discovered some die-hard rules. Applying them will ensure great training results and thus retained motivation to tackle the next workout:

  1. Set training objectives. It all starts with your goals. What do you want to accomplish? Do you want to increase your endurance, loose fat or gain muscles? For latter: Which kind of muscles do you want to build – small hard or voluminous ones? Mind the need for clarity about your end-state.
  2. Design a training plan. Develop your own program, which includes which muscle groups you want to train in which way and how often. Ensure enough time to rest in between. The relaxation window should stretch between 48 and 96 hours for each group. Vary the relaxation types, i.e. passive (e.g. chilling on your sofa) and active relaxation (e.g. lightly run after strength training).
  3. Start and observe yourself. Engage in strength training and listen to your body as you execute your training plan. Do you “feel” your muscles grow? I’m not kidding. The more you work out your body, the more aware you become of its transformation. Ensure to get enough sleep (at least 8 hours) as well as eat right (best case plant-based raw food).

Which music boosts your running performance?

What the heck does music have to do with your workout? More than you might imagine! Music resonates with your body – in particular your heart rate. Hence the type and pace of tunes flowing into your ears impact your mental as well as physical states. How? Let’s dive into it the ExperienceZone way!

Music is the answer

Sounds connect people plus your body to its vibration. Ok, the last part of the sentence sounds weird. Essentially, everything consists of energy. Music is a high frequency composition. Since your body consists to more than 70% of fluid, it resonates with vibrations. Did you ever step close to a loud speaker in a club or a concert? You might felt your body cells vibrating by the bass. Even at decent volume, resonance exists on a more subtle and thus unconscious level.

More interesting is the mental effect. Its actually a function of the biochemical reaction taking place once music makes your cells vibrate. In particular, your heart beat adjusts to the external audio frequencies. This way bloods pumps faster through your veins plus you feel pumped up by the hormones produced in due course. Adrenalin gives you a rush, your lungs widen and your performance capacity increases.

How do you leverage music to peak perform?

When it comes to running, I’m usually a lone ranger. Music – or better the artist performing – is thus often my only buddy. How can you leverage music to increase my running performance up to 20% (!) in terms of distance or speed?

  1. Check your maturity level and goals: Are you a beginner or professional runner? The more advanced you’re the higher your average heart rate during running and thus higher the beats per minute (BPM), you can listen to. Reason being, your heart and whole organism is already used to train on a higher rate. Advanced runners, I usually recommend to tune into 120-140 BPM (it’s Techno and Electro time!), whilst beginners are advised to stick around 100 BPM (Hip-Hop horray!). Also, do you want to check your objectives? If you’re targeting towards speed rather than endurance, switch to fast music. In case, you’re up for long runs, play songs at decent BPM levels.
  2. Monitor and control your performance: For a decade, swiftly gadgets are available, which help you to track your heart rate and running performance, such as time, speed and distance. Engage in some A/B testing, which translates into you running one day at the same heart rate one distance or speed without music and the other day with music. This allows you to measure the difference assuming all other things being equal. Based on the data, you can adjust the kind of music in order to optimize your performance.

How long can you use your running shoes?

Running is a great sport. You can do it anywhere anytime. No excuses. What do you need? A functional shirt, shorts and good shoes. Latter are probably the most important part of your equipment. So, let’s check on what you need to consider the ExperienceZone way.

Your feet are precious

We’re designed to walk and run. Hence, we’re spending most time on our feet. That’s the healthiest way to move your body. Running is highly effective if you do it right. This requires clarity about your running goals as well as care about your feet. You only have two. They’ve to carry you for a lifetime. So, treat them right. Why’s that important. Your feet are only the ends of your extremities called legs. Duh, what is so special around your legs? Well they’re executing the orders from your brain and actually make you move.

Next to your feet, which represent the intersection between your body and the ground and give you stability. The most important part of your legs are you knees. Latter work your legs to enable walking or running. Knees are – next to your shoulders – one of the most highly complex joints of your body. Hence, you want to avoid overcharging them. Finally, walking and running impacts you spine. The healthier your posture and motions, the better for your spine. I could go on with which bone connect to the other in detail and length, yet I guess you got the message: The way you run has an impact on your whole body. The better you do this, the lighter the impact on your entire system.

Here’s an example: I used to hike the Scottish highlands a decade ago. The problem: I would walk too fast and too long (approx. 15 miles per day) with the wrong gear, walking shoes instead of hiking boots, which would have been more appropriate in mountaineering territory. The result: I spent 4 days on the Isle of Sky to regenerate my left knee, which I seriously harmed during that walk. Today I still feel pain when walking or running longer than 7 miles in my left knee. So I either take pain killers, seek a surgery or run shorter distances. I decided to go for shorter distances. Don’t like to take pills or take the risks associated to a surgery.

Learn from my experiences!

Don’t follow my path. Especially not in the wrong shoes. So, here’re my recommendations:

  1. Define your goals: What do you want to accomplish with running? Better endurance? More muscles and less fat? Whatever it is: Make up your mind about your training objectives. Once you’ve them clear, you can design a running program to achieve them. I needs to include the frequency of your runs, their length, your speed as well as the ground.
  2. Buy high-quality shoes: Hit a running shop. Seek advice from a salesman. Jump on a treadmill and get your running-style taped. Don’t take the purchasing decision lightly. Instead of buying discounted shoes, which don’t fit well or don’t meet your objectives, share your program with the salesman. The more details she receives, the better she can consult you. Let her propose you a couple of models. Choose the pair, which you feel best in – whilst walking and running. If you can afford it, buy two or three pair of the model which suits you best.
  3. Switch regularly. If you’re running on two consecutive days, switch your shoes after the first one. Your shoes require some rest. Dump your shoes (or bring them back to the running store for recycling) after 500-1.000 kilometers or 300-600 miles. However, don’t make this a science. The life-span of your shoes is dependent on many factors, such as how often you use them for how long as well as your running style. If in doubt, don’t use them anymore.

Why can you eat more if you work out regularly?

Eating equals life-quality. Especially if the meal is well prepared. Many people rather listen to their palate than to their entire system. This often results in gluttony. I used to eat 4-5 times a day. My excuse: “Well, these are only small meals. Plus I’m training like a beast.” Was I right or wrong?

What happens in your body during physical exercises?

Motion requires energy. One source is nutrition. Focus on the appropriate food quantity at the right mealtime. Especially if you move every day. In case you want to get in shape through strength training, work every day different muscle groups. Also, you want to consider days off every now and then. Why’s that? If you exert muscles, you put them under stress. This causes growth since your body “thinks” it need to lift more weight or more often than before. Muscles can only increase their volume during relaxation. That’s why tension and relief or sports and relaxation always need to be well balanced. During your work-out your body transforms food in energy and thereafter it builds muscles. The higher your body’s muscle percentage in relation to fat, the higher your metabolic rate. The harder you train, the bigger the gain an the more your can eat. Yet burning fat and building muscles is a science and dependent on non-dietary factors too, such as the intensity of your training and regeneration. So you want to push your physical limits carefully. I found out that strength, balance, flexibility and endurance components in a very special relation work for me best.

Find the right training mix!

My daily program contains calisthenics, yoga and cross-fit elements. I usually train 10-20 minutes and always different muscle groups in alternating sequences. Slow-motion-style, which means maximizing the strain time. Though I do incorporate high-intensity pieces, such as burpees. What do you want to consider?

  1. Define your training goals. Do you want to become a lean leopard or a bulky beast? Your diet, exercises, weight, speed as well as number of sets and repetition is a function of your personal objectives. I recommend you to find a balance rather than going into the extremes. Believe me: I’ve been at both ends.
  2. Create a training plan. Your program needs to be divers and makes you move your boundaries. Humans are habitual beings. Yet if we don’t vary, we get bored. If we don’t push ourselves mentally, physical adaption sets in. The resulting plateau will dissatisfy you and lower your motivation.
  3. Take action and follow through. No matter how heavy you are. No matter if and which disease you’ve. No matter how busy you think you are. No excuses. Start where you’re, use what you’ve and do what you can. It takes 3 months or 100 days to cultivate a new routine. The earlier you begin to work out, the easier it is. The more you delay, the harder it is. Those are the ExperienceZone truisms we live by every day.

Does working out shorten your life?

Some months ago, one of my trainers said that exercising makes me die earlier. “How dare you, civil drill-instructor?” Either he wanted to go broke, smoked crack or discovered something I didn’t know. Latter is almost impossible. Yet his bold statement got me hooked. So I dived into research like we do at ExperienceZone.

There is no evidence for either school of thought

After an hour of stalking google, I concluded with disappointment that he was neither right nor wrong. Argh, how much I hate grey zones, white spaces and black boxes! On the other side they enable me to shed some light on a subject. Unfortunately this time not based on my own experiences, since your smart-ass author is still here.

Life is all about balance. You have to find your own. Once you know where your sweet spot or – in broader terms – comfort zone is, you can make deliberate escapes into your experience zone. You can push limits, which accelerates growth yet increases risk. Or you can step on your tippy toes just outside your luke warm area, which brings decent progress and calculable risks.

Sports & Relaxation are just two ends of the same scale: Physical engagement. If you work out moderately and take Sundays off to chill on your couch, you’ll be just fine. No significant life span prolonging or shortening effect. In case you train like a beast and relax like on tranquilizers, you’ll either live longer or shorter.

So, what is the secret sauce of rejuvenation?

Scientists found out that “endurance athletes don’t necessary live longer but do die healthier”. What a great outlook! Let’s combine it with a second knowledge snippet though: “The length of you genomes determine your life expectancy.” These are the tiny ends of your DNA strings (the colorful garlands in the biology book, which contain your unique blueprint). The longer the genomes are, the more days are left to enjoy on planet earth. Usually, they’re shrinking over time. Slower if you’re relaxed and behave zen-like a turtle and faster if you freak out everyday. Physical, mental, and emotional stress makes you age quicker and die sooner.

If we combine my admittedly superficial pieces of wisdom, you want to engage in the following behaviors:

  1. Work out regularly. Best case on a daily basis. Find your optimum between strength, balance and flexibility exercises. Ideally outside at the fresh air and with exposure to sunlight.
  2. Don’t stress yourself. If you’re not into competitions, don’t sign up for them. I know, social pressure is a bitch. I recently ran a corporate half-marathon which almost killed me after an exhausting week and a short night. If you’re not feeling well or do have muscle ache, don’t work out that day. Listen to your body and follow your intuition.
  3. Take time for relaxation. Passivity is no time-waster. In contrast, it clears you mind and regenerates your muscles. For my bodybuilding buddies: Days off training actually make your muscles grow! Zzzzz…

Give it a try! Learn through trial-and-error. Then feel your genomes shorten and watch your body rejuvenate as if your name is Benjamin Button. Even if you don’t add days to your life, you’ll add life to your days. Even if you don’t want to do it for health, do it for vanity.

Work out every day!

We at ExperienceZone are all about discovering new things and turning them into habits. Of course, only those which fit our life-styles and support our missions. Every morning I get up to engage in deep breathing, grounding, yoga and strength training. This routine only takes 10 minutes and ensures the best start into my day. Why is that?

Pump up you body.

Sports & Relaxation are two ends of the same scale: Physical exercises. Sleep and mental techniques, like meditation, make your body relax. They regenerate your cellular system and make you gather energy. Latter you can use when needed. Thousands of years ago we got into fight-or-flight situations, in which a relaxed body ensured quick decisions, explosive power, and endurance. In our modern world, many of us are not forced to perform physical exercises. This is the problem. Our muscular system, which is designed to frequently release kinetic energy, degenerates. Hence, we run into gyms. Yet those usually fill up in January and empty in February. Reason being, we feel overcome by events and thus find excuses why we cannot work out today. One resolution might be home workouts in the morning. Upsides are that you flex your body straight after sleep and operate in a very time efficient way. Chances are that you successfully craft and habituate an effective physical workout program.

Find the right mix.

Strength, balance and flexibility. This is what yoga is all about. Together with bio-energetic exercises, it preps me for my day – physically, mentally, and emotionally. There are hundreds of other workout types though, which you can integrate into your daily work out. Do you like endurance sports? Go for a run or jump on your bike! Do you want to get stronger? Grab some dumb bells! Most important is that you develop a program, which fits your needs and you can run on a daily basis. Best case in the morning outside or at least with the window wide open. This ensures that enough oxygen gets into your lungs and brain. You will soon feel awake and mentally refreshed. Take a cold shower thereafter and tackle your day!

What is your experience zone?

Most of us spend 99% of our time in our comfort zones. Eat, work, sleep, and repeat. Days, weeks, months and years pass by. What a waste of time! We only have a few decades on this planet. Let’s use them! So, what do you need to do? Awareness is the first step towards change. Recognize your comfort zone. The functional area, in which you don’t take much risk yet don’t learn a lot too.

Do you want to stop existing and start living? Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Tap into your experience zone to learn, grow, and become truly happy. Experiences turn into memories in hindsight. What do most people think about on their deathbeds? Definitely not about the money they earned, the houses they lived in or the cars they drove. Rather the people they met, the placed they traveled, and the experiences they made.

Take deliberate steps into your ExperienceZone. Watch out: It is thin and you might overrun into your danger zone; uncharted territory, in which every step could be your last one. Do every day or at least every week something new. Start with small things like using the other hand to brush your teeth or taking another way to work without switching on your GPS. Write a bucket list of things you’d like to do before you die. Or best case create an aims in life folder. Make sure that those cover all areas of life: Nutrition & Energy, Family & Friends, Community & Environment, Sports & Relaxation, Recreation & Fun, Career & Financials, and Self Development. Also, ensure that it addresses all dimensions of being, doing, having, and giving.

Finally, go out and just do it. Jump fear straight in its face. Irrational fears are a great pointer towards the things which you need to do to learn, grow and become happy.

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