The ability to recover from exercise is one of the most important and least talked about factors in the long term success of any training program.
The faster you can recover, the better your results will be. Most people think they need to be training 3 hours a day 7 days a week to get the results they are looking for.
This could not be further from the truth. Train hard 3-5 days a week and put in some effort on your recovery to speed up your progress.
So how do you ensure that you will recover properly from workouts and optimize your results?
Glad you asked! A good place to start is trying some of our top ten recovery tips .
1) Have some protein and carbohydrates after your workout.
Sometime within an hour or two after training, make a point to have a meal with some protein and carbohydrates. This could be dinner if you workout in the evening and something as simple as lean, grass fed beef and some white rice. If you workout earlier or won't be having dinner anytime soon then you can have a scoop of grass fed whey protein and a piece of fruit.
Doing this will help to reduce cortisol, as well as start to get some much needed nutrients to the muscles and begin the recovery process.
2) Take a contrast shower after training
This is not for the faint of heart. When you get to the shower after your workout crank it as cold as you can stand for 30 seconds or so. Then switch it to as hot as you can handle for a minute. Switch back and forth between these for 5-10 minutes.
3) Do not drop carbohydrate intake too low
Although low carb diets are all the rage these days, this is not an optimal approach for someone who is working out. Even if you need to lose a good amount of body fat you should still be consuming at least 100 grams of carbs per day.
Dropping carbs drastically will cause your mood, strength, and results to all suffer. To maximize your recovery, you must keep a decent amount of carbs in your diet. A good rule of thumb is AT LEAST 2 servings of fruit and a fist sized serving of starch (rice, potato, oats, etc) a day.
4) Not doing more than you can handle in the gym
While most gyms preach...
"GO HARD, DON'T LET UP!"
This approach will eventually doom you. The ability to sustain a high level of output with proper form takes time and is a journey. Having the "never say die" mindset from the beginning will cause more harm than good.
You need to always strive for progressing, but within what you are capable of. Doing this consistently over the long haul will keep you from over training and burning out.
5) Sleep seven to eight hours a night
If you only did one of these tips, this is the one.
Looking for a miracle supplement or magic pill?
More sleep and better quality sleep is it. Without enough sleep your results will be less than optimal.
Plain and simple.
6) Do some low intensity conditioning and/or restorative yoga on off days
This is a great way to increase blood flow to the muscles which helps shuttle in the nutrients necessary for optimal recovery.
We offer yoga at Coastal Strength & Fitness for just this reason. Our members are also encouraged to go on walks, hikes, bike rides, and swims.
7) Not stressing out over nonsense
This is easier said than done, but you need to know that excessive amounts of psychological and/or emotional stress can slow down your results.
We recommend the "woosah" technique when you find yourself stressing.
8) Get a massage once a month or as often as you can afford
This is a great way to relax and speed up the healing process of sore muscles. A good masseuse will also prevent future injuries by finding imbalances in your body and helping you treat them.
If you need a good masseuse check out Elyse at Momentum Massage & Bodywork.
9) Do not train for more than an hour
There are many reasons for this. One is you should have a life outside of the gym. No need to be putzing around at the gym for 2 1/2 hours a day.
The main one is after sixty minutes your body will start to produce more cortisol, which is a hormone that eats muscle tissue and increases body fat storage.
This is the exact opposite of what you are trying to do and something to avoid.
Hopefully you can try some of these tips out and be sure to let us know how they work for you. We would love to hear any other great recovery tips you have found to help out as well!