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Are you recovering from your workout properly?

Exercise is supposed to help you move forward in your life and to help you attain your health goals. But what if you are not recovering properly and therefore not making strides towards your end goals? Let's explore how exercise affects the body and then more importantly, how to recover to maximize your efforts.

Why do we exercise? We exercise to stimulate changes in our bodies. What changes are we attempting to stimulate? First and foremost, we exercise to strengthen our hearts and how our body utilizes oxygen. Properly performed exercise allows enough of a stress on the heart and lungs to adapt and become stronger and more efficient at moving blood, nutrients, and oxygen throughout the body; supplying these critical components to every cell in the body.

Next, we exercise to increase lean body mass which is composed of muscle and healthy connective tissue. By adding lean mass to the body, we help stimulate our metabolism and increase the body's need for increase bone mass. And finally, we exercise to increase the amount of fat we burn and to lose unwanted lbs.

None of what I discussed above should come as a surprise, we all know more or less why we exercise, but perhaps what we don't know is how to maximize the effectiveness of our exercise. Here, I will explain what each of us should know and do to maximize our efforts. In order to do this, let's look at what the body actually does during exercise and why. To do this, let's go back in time to a more primitive time where survival was more difficult than today.

Let's imagine that we are in the jungle and we are hunting for food. As we come into a clearing, we encounter a large predator, a sabretooth tiger. As we pause for just a moment to see if he noticed us, we immediately see it looking straight at us and begin to move slowly but determinedly toward us. In that moment, we have to decide, do we run, do we fight or do we freeze. In this circumstance we out number the tiger so we decide to fight. The battle is fierce and we use every last ounce of strength to cause the tiger to withdraw and for a moment we are safe. Let's pause and evaluate what our body just did and how it begins to recover from the fight.

Immediately after a the fight, the heart is racing, yet beginning to slow. The adrenaline is beginning to decrease as our fight or flight response begins to subside. And as all this happens, our body begin to recover.

Recovery happens in three phases. First, the body must rehydrate the muscle cells to allow proper function. Second, our body will begin to replace muscle glycogen utilizing glucose in the blood stream, again needed for proper muscle function. Finally, the body begins to use available protein to repair damaged muscle cells and other tissue. As this process continues, our body begins to go into what is called homeostasis which is means "balance" in the body. The three stages always go in this order no matter what. The body will not begin to build and repair muscle before it rehydrates and ensures proper muscle glycogen is reestablished.

As we consider the body and how it is designed for survival, it makes sense that immediately following a fight or flight moment, optimal function of the muscle cells to contract and help you survive is more important than repairing and building new tissue. The possibility of encountering another predator or some other life threatening thing is a strong possibility. Having the body ready to run, fight or freeze again is the number one goal, survival always comes first.

Once the body has optimized its potential for survival should an additional life threatening saturation occur, it will begin to evaluate if the stimulus was sufficient to illicit and adaptive response and to build new, stronger muscles. This process of stimulus and response is how we have adapted to survive in our environment. And remember, survival always is the top priority of the body.

Now let's apply this to exercise in today's day and age. While we no longer struggle against predators such as in the example above, we still endure stress. When we exercise, we are, to some extent, simulating a fight or flight scenario to the body. We push the body and ask it to work harder and longer to help us achieve our goals. Adrenaline kicks in when we begin to push ourselves and our body sends blood to the extremities to ensure the muscles get sufficient oxygen and nutrients. Our body begins to slow down non-essential functions such as digestion and puts all of its energy and focus into "survival". And much like in the example above, once we finish exercising in this scenario, the body has to go through the three phases of recovery. Rehydrate, replace muscle glucose, build, repair and make stronger and more durable muscles and tissues. So what can we do to maximize this process. Let me explain.

We all know that after a workout, it is important to take in protein. Between 20 and 40 grams depending on your level of fitness and the extent of your muscle mass and for years, this is all we have had preached to us. While this process provides some results, perhaps is does not maximize them. So what will?

It is now recommended that post workout that we take in efficient amount of electrolytes, water and carbohydrates to aide the body in its recovery. But how will we do all of this? Let me tell you about what I consider to be the best "post-workout" on the market - ARM Plus by Max Muscle.

ARM Plus is short for Anabolic Recovery Matrix Plus and was designed by Dr Phil Harvey, resident fellow at the ISSN. Dr. Harvey studied extensively how the body recovers and then through is research and testing developed a product to maximize each stage of the recovery process described above.

Below is the Supplement Facts of ARM Plus. I recommend reviewing it and then come get a bag and notice how your recovery improves as well as your results.

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