I am going to cover a really important topic that benefits everyone, especially those who are constantly active. I am referring to ‘proper’ recovery, this includes stretching after your workout, drinking enough water, sleeping enough and much, much more!
If you consistently lift 3-4+ days a week then your recovery NEEDS to be a part of your routine, just like your workout and your warm-up. The cool-down part of our workout is just as vital to our success.
The quicker and more efficiently we can recover, the sooner we can get back to making more progress in the gym!
If you are not taking the necessary steps to recover properly then your performance and overall health can end up suffering. A lot of people know this as “hitting a wall” or “burning out” or “overtraining”. This involves the feeling of low energy, mood and even excessive soreness can be present.
Stress can play a huge role in our ability to recovery properly or not. Since our bodies are always in a ‘flight’ or ‘fight’ responses, we need to learn how to control them. Being stressed can be a good thing, but being over-stressed can cause a lot of problems for us.
Doing things like pursuing new career goals, building relationships, grocery shopping, balancing finances and everything else in between provide a positive or negative stress affect.
When these activities and pursuits end up dominating our lives, thus becoming less fun and invigorating, this could end up resulting in:
- Poor blood sugar management
- Poor Insulin resistance
- Depression – insomnia/overall poor sleep quality
- Increased sugary (carb based) food cravings
- Decreased thyroid hormone output
- Reduced metabolic rate
- Altered sex hormone activity
- Amino acid loss from muscle
If this becomes a chronic issue, these results will also become chronic and worsen overtime. That is why we actively want to include relaxing and energizing activities in our daily routines.
Generally speaking, chronic stressors are ‘sympathetic’ dominant (fight or flight) .These activities below are ‘parasympathetic” dominant (rest and digest).
- Yoga (7:30am on Saturdays at the gym wink wink)
- Spa Treatments
- Jacuzzi/Hot Tub
- Steam Room
- Listening to Music
- Mid-day Nap
- Warm Bath
- Drinking plenty of water
- Drink Tea
- Meaningful Relationships/Discussions
Okay, now lets jump into the next part!
NUTRITION & RECOVERY
On the nutrition end of things, eating a diet that is mainly comprised of REAL food in its unprocessed form will help give our bodies the nutrients it needs daily. Consuming whole unprocessed foods with non-processed spices/herbs can help moderate inflammation within the body, thus aiding recovery.
For CALORIE INTAKE, the more you workout and the lower your calorie are, the slower the recovery process will be. Sometimes there is no way around this (bodybuilding/physique competing) but for anyone who has a choice, I would not recommend this long term.
Working out 6-7 days a week while losing body fat due to eating at an aggressive caloric deficit is bad news for your body. If this is currently you, I highly recommend making sleep/hydration and relaxation during free time priorities, or just simply cut out a day or increase calorie intake.
Overtraining can also affect your appetite. People who have overtrained have both reported not feeling hungry at all throughout the day and some have reported feeling like bottomless pits. Either way, if you are appetite is at the extreme end of either of these scenarios, you may be overtraining.
HYDRATION + SLEEP + RECOVERY
Water intake plays a huge role for recovery as well. If we are not drinking the bare minimum (½ oz per pound of body weight) then you could be more susceptible to muscular soreness, cramps, dizziness, loss of energy etc.
Plenty of low to zero calorie fluids can be important for the lymphatic system as well.
Sleep is another biggie regarding proper recovery. You want to make sure that not only the duration (7-9 hours) of your sleep is up at the recommended amount, but also the quality of your sleep. If you are able to “sleep” for 8 hours a night but wake up 2-3 times, that’s an issue.
SUPPLEMENTS + RECOVERY
Using ‘certain’ supplements after training can enhance the recovery process for us. This includes taking in carbohydrates and protein as well as BCAA’s (Branch Chain Amino Acids).
If certain supplements or a nutrient dense meal is not prepared and ready for you after your workout, the regeneration/muscle building process can be slowed down or delayed.
Other supplements that have shown to help in research trials are Creatine and Glutamine. Creatine is one of the most researched supplements in the entire world and also one of the most effective for helping building muscle mass.
Last part, please do whatever you can do to avoid anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDS). You DO NOT want to be that person who constantly takes Advil or Ibuprofen for anything under the sun. Taking that daily or even every couple of days for months or years ‘can’ create gut issues and cause more inflammation in the long run. This could also possibly lead to leaky gut/immune system issues.
Now to wrap this whole thing up, I wanted to talk about the exercise end of the recovery process. The type of workouts we do and how often we do them will affect how fast and how well we recover.
HIIT workouts that primarily all cardio will be the hardest to continuously recover from. Strength workouts will be more manageable and honestly more beneficial to your strength and physique goals over time.
So I want you to think about how much time you spend working out a week (maybe 5-6 hours?) now think about how many hours a week your AREN’T working out.
Exercise is a stimulus for CHANGE – this stimulus will only work and continue to provide results if we recover enough between our workouts. The faster and more efficient we can recover, the sooner we can continue to progress inside the gym!
If you are not taking the right steps (warm-up/cool-down/rest days) then your overall performance and health may end up suffering. As I brought up in a past post, this is what people describe as “hitting a wall”. This can be a result of OVER-TRAINING.
You may coming to the gym 4-5 days a week and working hard, but you just can’t seem to go up in weights or get rid of the any of your soreness from the previous workouts. This may be a result of you cutting corners in your workouts.
We want to perform a proper warm-up before our lift, it is specifically designed to help ‘warm’ the body, increase blood flow and get your more mobile for the actual session. A cool-down is designed to ‘cool’ the body down (hey go figure!). Static stretching (holding a stretch) is ideal during a cool-down, it will help you from becoming tight afterwards and will also help lower the heart rate before you leave. We never want to finish a workout and walk right out and leave with a high heart rate.
Make sure you are including a warm-up and cool-down in each workout as well as plenty of mobility and flexibility work throughout the week to assist the overall recovery process. The goal is to ensure good blood flow circulation. Blood brings new oxygen/nutrients while helping remove wastes. After that, the lymphatic system sends out the good ole white blood cells to do their ‘job’ and help ‘clean’ up an messes left behind.
Exercise has also been directly linked with having a stronger immune system. This can help us from getting sick so often and help us recover even faster!
SUMMARY + RECOMMENDATIONS
- Try to get in 30 minutes of a relaxing activity each day (yoga, meditation, hot tub, massage, hot bath, read a book)
- Don’t keep your calories ‘too low’ if they don’t need to be – simply put, the more food we get in, the more nutrients we get, the more nutrients we get, the better they will aide recovery
- Utilize Protein, Carbohydrates and Amino’s after your workout (keep post workout meal relatively lower fat so it digests faster!)
- Creatine and glutamine can be great (research proven) supplements to help the recovery process
- Balance your diet with PLENTY of fruits and vegetables so that we are getting plenty of vital vitamins and minerals.
- Try to get in 7-9 hours of sleep A NIGHT!
Was this helpful?
Let me know in the comments!
Written By Frank Hoyle