Regardless of the type of training you are doing, the rate at which you recover is crucial to making progress within your training. Say you have a great workout session but fail to take care of yourself in the minutes, hours, days (well hopefully you’re not waiting days in between workouts) after, you’re simply setting yourself up for disaster. Just exactly how big of a disaster we’re talking about though will depends on your goals and the type/intensity of training you are doing.
For example, if your goal is weight loss and you do not take proper care of yourself during your recovery periods, chances are you will not see the results you’re wanting. Remember, during a training session you are not making gains. Instead, your body is basically being broken down (as broken down as microscopic tears in your muscles). This is why it is what you do during your recovery period that determines the gains you actually will achieve from your workouts.
Let’s switch from your average person wanting to lose weight to your seasoned endurance athlete. If recovery is not taken seriously here, this could end up being extremely detrimental to the athletes’ health as well as performance. If you’re putting in 13 hours a week, you’re obviously going to need to be sure you are extra strict with your recovery time so that you are able to continue on at the level optimal for competition.
So how can you help to improve your recovery between workouts? Follow this checklist.
- Proper Nutrition: following a workout, you have a 45 minute (tops) time frame to properly replenish glycogen stores & promote protein synthesis. What you want: most studies show that a carbohydrate/protein combination is superior in stimulating both glycogen replenishment and protein synthesis to either a carbohydrate or protein supplement alone. Proper re-hydration would be included here as well. Not only drinking lots of water, but making sure you are getting electrolytes will be crucial for recovery. Note* amount of food & water would be dependent on goals and intensity of workouts.
- Get Adequate Rest: 7-8 hours of sleep is ideal. A lack of sleep adds extra stress to the body, creating a release of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is a catabolic hormone (meaning it breaks things down). Cortisol is also released during exercise (how much released is dependent on exercise intensity). Higher levels of cortisol are associated with some protein degradation (or breakdown) in the body and we do NOT want to break down protein. Therefore it is important that cortisol levels are controlled.
- Foam rolling: This will help promote blood flow as well as aid in reducing restricted movement due to tight/constricted fascia.
- Massage: Find a massage therapist that you trust & if possible try to make seeing him/her part of your normal routine. Every week is certainly ideal, but if that’s not an option at least opt for once a month. Your body will thank you!
- Compression sleves/tights: If you’re an avid endurance athlete, chances are you’ve heard of compression gear, and/or probably (well hopefully) own some. Compression sleves/tights are used to help promote venous blood return. This helps legs recovery faster from say a long run/bike. Partially due to gravity, blood tends to pool in the lower extremities. Our soleus (or calve muscle) is often referred to as the body’s second heart as it acts as a pump to facilitate blood from our lower extremities back up to the heart. Therefore compression around this area, will promote even more venous blood return, allowing for wastes & by-products to be eliminated at quicker rates.
Hope this helps! : )