Why it's just as important as your workout!
We all love that feeling after we finish a tough workout; well at least most of us do. That “runner’s high” or “the pump” that you feel is something incredible that pushes us to want to do it all over again, no matter how sore, tired, or busy we are. Equally as important as the workout itself, our bodies require the proper recovery and rest to help repair and build lean muscle. Without it, all that hard work may as well be for nothing. Following necessary recovery strategies will help your body be ready to give everything you have to your next workout, allowing you to see results much quicker.
Here are 8 ways to maximize your post-workout recovery:
Active recovery – if you have pushed through a strength workout, make sure you plan on including a cool down at the end. Some options include running through some dynamic/active body movements to circulate blood and oxygen to all muscles or utilizing a program on a piece of cardio equipment, such as a Precor EFX to keep the body moving; active recovery (a.k.a. cool down) is a great way to help flush out lactic acid build-up and assist in quicker muscle recovery.
Stretching – is a great way to relieve muscular tension and potentially reduce the soreness you experience after a tough workout. Make sure to schedule time after your workout and follow through with stretching the entire body. Most people neglect this part of their exercise routine, however, by not having the necessary flexibility and muscle pliability, you might short yourself on muscular gains and seeing the results you want.
- Massage – We all love the feeling of a great relaxing massage from a therapist, but most of us do not have the time or money to receive one as often as we would like. Introduce SMR (self-myofascial release) into your recovery routine.A.K.A. Foam Rolling, it is a great way to reduce muscle stiffness, promote circulation and induce a state of relaxation in the muscle. It might be painful during, but SMR can be performed before or after a workout, first thing in the morning, or before heading to bed. You can begin with a lower density foam roller and build up to a more aggressive one which will provide greater blood and oxygen uptake to the muscles being rolled out and a deeper massage into the muscles. Foam rolling can be used for all major muscles of the body and you can find them at Spartan Fitness.
Good Stress vs. Bad Stress – Good stress, like the kind you create during exercise, is a good thing. Bad stress, created from other sources in our lives such as lack of sleep, bad relationships or tough working conditions, can influence the time it takes your body to recover after exercise. Any form of stress in your life is going to take a toll on your overall well-being and your body's capacity to take on anything further. Take steps to reduce or eliminate this chronic stress to ensure your body has the ability to bounce back after workouts. Ways to reduce chronic stress include: surrounding yourself with people that give positive energy, get better quality sleep (see tips below), and take up an activity such as Yoga or meditation.
Down weeks – our bodies are incredible machines, and as such, we need to create variety and change to consistently see results. Following the same routine for too long a period will result in plateaus. One way to avoid these plateaus is to change up your routine constantly including providing the body with down or active rest weeks once-and-a-while. Try including a down week or active rest week in your routine once every 4-6 weeks. This will allow your body the necessary recovery time and you will notice incredible results; stronger muscles and increased energy!
Sleep – The importance of good quality sleep can not be understated, but many of us might not understand how important it is when it relates to our bodies ability to recover from exercise. Lack of quality sleep may affect the physiological mechanisms responsible for the changes in our body from the stresses of training. During sleep, hormonal secretion is one of the most important factors influencing recovery; after all, the purpose of sleep is to help our body recover; in the case of muscle, it is the only time they repair and regenerate to become stronger and leaner.
Stay Hydrated - Dehydration can cause the muscle to perform sub-par during workouts and can delay the recovery process afterwards. Exercise increases the body’s need for water so ensure you are consuming adequate amounts. Aim to consume 2L-3L of spring or filtered water daily. Try sipping it throughout the day rather than guzzling; this will prevent you from running to the bathroom so often.
Nutrition – plays a key role in the recovery process. Ensuring the body receives the proper amount of nutrients at the right time will make the difference between a well fueled or lack-luster body and mind for your next workout. Keep this in mind next time you decide to skip a pre or post workout meal: What you consume before and after your workout today will directly affect your performance during your workout tomorrow.
- For great Yoga accessories such as mats, towels and blocks, check out our accessories here.
Recovery is a crucial component of any fitness-related goal. Everyone, no matter your goal or fitness level, should make it a part of your regular routine. Incorporating these tips into your daily recovery plan will help ensure that you get the results you want out of your hard work!
Carmen Deacetis a certified Holistic Nutritionist, Personal Trainer, and Co-owner of FitFX www.fitfx.ca.