Without a doubt, one of the most important elements to being an effective athlete is recovery. Whether you’re trying to improve your physique, your overall health, lose weight, feel better, whatever — recovery is a critical element, especially as you get older.
Have you ever tried to really get into a fitness routine, only to be stymied by extreme soreness and pain? This is one of the best indicators that your recovery routine could use some polishing up. It isn’t very complicated, but there are some definite secrets that lifelong athletes know that can be the difference between you making effective progress towards your goals and slowing down, or worse — getting injured and being unable to train further. But always remember to consult your physician before attempting a new exercise regimen.
So, without further ado, let’s dig into the secrets that will help you unlock the Superman or Superwoman within!
What is Recovery?
Recovery is nothing new to those who have been working out for years. But for the uninitiated, recovery can sound a bit counterintuitive.
To begin with, recovery is the act of restoring your musculoskeletal and nervous systems to their optimal levels following periods of exertion. When you work out, the stresses of your exercises create tiny tears in your muscles. The act of your muscles repairing themselves is what is responsible for your increase in strength and stamina.
As with anything, balance is essential. When you exert yourself too much, tiny micro-tears become bigger tears — these are the injuries that impede your mobility and really prevent you from moving forward.
That also means that if you try to work out again too soon, you will likely put yourself into danger of preventing the healing process, thus undoing all of that hard work you put in at the gym. Recovery is what makes you stronger and allows you to work out further.
So it’s imperative to listen to your body and recover. Even though it can feel lazy to sit around every other day or so, you’re actually helping your body become stronger, faster, and more agile. But there are things that you can do to speed up your rate of recovery. Here’s a few now that can be of great help.
1. Make rest days as important as workouts.
You spend the time in the gym, so make sure it sticks! Just like gorging yourself on chocolate every day will invariably undo the effort you put in during your workouts, so, too, will skipping rest days.
Rest days give you the ability to let your muscles fully recover. Different exercises require different recovery periods. For instance, weight lifting and other resistance-based activities will generally require 36–48 hours to properly recover. And, for those who are just starting out, it can take up to 72 hours. But usually if you need this much time, it’s better to go lighter in your workouts to prevent injury.
Listen to your body, it will tell you what you need.
For more cardiovascular workouts like bike rides, swimming, and rowing, you can usually recover in 24–48 hours. However, this is not always the case. If you go with higher-impact exercises like running, you might want to wait the full 48-hours. This will allow you to really succeed in achieving your goals.
2. Alternate recovery workouts with normal workouts every so often.
If you are training 3 days a week, especially in the beginning, you might want to make the middle workout in the week a recovery workout. What this means is to do something that’s less intense during the time you would normally work out.
For instance, if you’re running 3 days a week, you might pick one of those days to walk or swim instead. Or, if you’re lifting 4 days a week, it can be helpful to switch out one day of weight lifting for a 45 minute stretching class. This might seem counterintuitive because you’re not exercising, but trust us — this will actually help you to see results quicker and keep you training for longer over time.
As you progress in your training, your body will begin to adjust and your recovery times will become shorter. But be patient with yourself in the beginning. If you injure yourself, you will end up starting all over again. Don’t waste your effort by failing to recover!
3. Get all of your required sleep.
When your body is sleeping, it’s at its most effective for muscle recovery. At night, your body works in overdrive to repair those micro-tears. So do not skimp on sleep.
We know that it isn’t always possible with work, school, family, friends, church, and everything else. So just remember that if you’re not able to get all of the sleep you need, you really should go easier in the gym.
Again, if you injure yourself when trying to workout, every single one of those things listed above will suffer as well. Don’t play fast and loose with your sleep.
4. Eat well.
This doesn’t mean to eat everything in sight — even if your body seems to feel like it. Instead, eat a proper diet for your increased exercise.
Furthermore, slower-metabolizing carbohydrates such as beans, sweet potatoes and yams, and nuts will all help you fuel your body. Furthermore, healthy fats and proteins are essential to the repair process in your muscles. Give yourself a great source of each — preferably as unprocessed as possible, and you will see great results.
5. Drink plenty of water.
Your circulatory system is the transportation system of your body. If you’re low on water, your recovery will slow down drastically.
Think about boats going down a river. The higher the water-level, the easier they can transport their cargo. The lower the water-level, the more accidents happen, the slower traffic can flow, and everything grinds to a halt. Don’t skimp on water.
6. Consider IV Hydrotherapy.
When it comes down to recovering from intense workouts, nothing beats a direct injection of fluids and vitamins into your bloodstream. This acts to really get to the root of your recovery and will accelerate the process. IV Hydrotherapy in many patients helps to reduce soreness and will make you more effective in the long run.
If this is a procedure that you would like to consider, then make sure and click here to schedule a consultation today!