So, you've embarked on a big lifestyle change, you're eating lots of healthy foods and enjoying your weights sessions but you're pulling up a bit stiff and you'd like to be seeing results sooner?
Have you considered the role that recovery plays in achieving and maintaining your ideal body shape?
The body needs adequate time to recuperate after training. The ability to recover from a workout is just as important as the workout itself. It is during rest periods that the body adapts to the stress placed upon it during training sessions.
Balancing training, diet, and healthy lifestyle habits are required for optimal functioning. Going to extremes can result in poor performance, illness, and injury. Overtraining, consuming too much of certain foods and or adopting crash can negatively affect your performance and goals.
So, what can you do to maximise your recovery?
Take the time to stretch and mobilise.
The purpose of recovery is to allow the muscles to repair themselves. Regular stretching enhances recovery as it increases flexibility and local blood flow. It also induces relaxation and makes us more mindful and present. Committing to some form of regular stretching or flexibility training enables our bodies to move and function better and reduces the likelihood of muscular pain.
Incorporate some light movement into your program. This might include; going for a light walk, cycle, swim or doing a Yoga or Pilates class. Participating in a Revive class at your studio would be perfect. These sessions are designed to improve flexibility and reduce the risk of injury, detox the body, relieve stress, lengthen the spine and leave the body feeling completely recharged for your next workout. Active recovery stimulates blood flow and helps to flush the muscles of by products, which can result in muscle tenderness. It enhances recovery and helps prevent injuries from occurring.
Also, consider your training plan and try and space out weight training throughout the week. By having a day's rest in between intense weight sessions involving the same musculature, excess muscle soreness will be prevented.
Ensure you are prioritising your sleep.
Try to develop a regular sleeping routine where you go to bed at a similar time each night of the week. Remove distractions like light, smartphones, and TVs. If possible, aim for 8 hours of quality deep sleep per night.
If you find it difficult to wind down after a busy day, incorporate some relaxation techniques into your nightly ritual. This may include; reading a book in bed, writing in a journal, having a soothing herbal tea, running a warm bath, stretching or doing a guided meditation.
The concentration of anabolic hormones (those responsible for building muscle) increase during sleep. Therefore, sleep is the most important time to recover and build lean muscle. Adequate levels of sleep also help to provide mental health and hormonal balance.
The body is made up of 50 to 75 per cent water. Water forms the basis of blood, digestive juices, urine and perspiration, and is contained in lean muscle, fat and bones. As the body can't store water, we need fresh supplies every day to make up for losses from bodily functions. The amount we need depends on our body size, metabolism, the weather, the food we eat and our activity levels. On an average day, it is recommended that adults consume 8-10 glasses of water.
As exercise increases the body's need for water, being aware of your own hydration needs before, during, and after exercise is an important consideration for all active people. During exercise, fluid is critical for maintaining blood volume, regulating body temperature, and for muscle contraction.
Sweat results in the loss of water and electrolytes. Therefore, the amount of fluid that you'll need to drink will depend upon how much you've sweated and the temperature of the environment. On hot days after a vigorous workout, you may need to drink a significantly larger volume. As a guide, if your urine is pale yellow throughout the day this is a good indicator that you are adequately hydrated.
Nourish your body
During recovery, proper nutrition is essential. Protein sources are required to rebuild muscle tissue and to supply the building blocks for various cells, tissues, enzymes, and hormones. Excellent protein sources include; poultry, seafood, red meat, eggs, dairy and quinoa.
An easy way to boost your daily protein intake is to have a good quality protein shake at the end of your workout. Pack a shaker in your gym bag and you'll always be prepared. Protein powder supplements are rapidly absorbed by the body, promoting the recovery process. Mixing your supplement with water also helps to rehydrate the body.
In between workouts, eat nutrient dense wholefoods such a fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, nuts and seeds along with quality protein sources. Eating foods closest to their natural state ensures you consume the maximum amount of nutrients, in the correct proportions. Wholefoods contain a wide variety of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, essential fatty acids and fibre. The more natural colour you can get into your diet, the better!
Book yourself in for a massage
Regular massage can stimulate the circulatory and lymphatic system, enabling faster removal of waste products and toxins. Thereby enhancing recovery, reducing muscle stiffness, increasing performance and inducing a state of relaxation in the muscle and body.
Self-myofascial release using a foam roller or massage ball is also a very effective way at enhancing recovery. As it can be performed regularly in the comfort of your own home and is very inexpensive. By applying pressure to specific points on your body called trigger points you are able to aid in the recovery of muscles by stimulating blood flow and the restoration of healthy tissue. Releasing trigger points helps to re-establish proper movement patterns and pain free movement.
When rolling or working on tight/sore muscles you may experience some discomfort. It should be uncomfortable, but not unbearable, and when you are done it should feel better.
Your body is the most valuable vehicle you will ever own. Think about it, it's the only place you have to live! Treat it like a Ferrari, fuel it with premium and get it serviced regularly.
Train hard and have fun!
*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.