One of the most important things that people always seem to get wrong when it comes to starting a new program is not allowing enough time for their bodies to recover. More is not always better and too much training can actually affect your results!
A balanced combination of rest and recovery along with proper nutrition and training should be a part of any fitness program. It’s important to remember that your results are not only achieved by what you do in the gym, but also what you do outside of the gym. Resting is a crucial part of the muscle building process, because it is the rest that allows the muscles that you have damaged during training to heal and rebuild and become stronger for your next session. If proper recovery time is not given then the body cannot regenerate. Recovery refers to techniques and actions taken to maximise your body’s repair process. It involves many factors, including chemical and hormonal balance, nervous system repair, and mental state restoration. Below are the most important elements:
Sleep is the most factor for recovery. Ensuring that you get an adequate amount of sleep will assist mental health, hormonal balance, and muscular recovery. Aim to get between 7-10 hours per night.
The best thing you can do for your body is to eat according to your goals. You must eat the right balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat to effectively fuel your body. Pre and post workout nutrition is exceptionally important, and can help you get the most out of your workouts and assist in recovery. In terms of food selection, you should try to follow the 80/20 rule to maintain balance. That means getting 80% of your nutrition through whole, minimally processed, micronutrient dense foods and using the remaining 20% for more processed, or “junk foods”.
There are two methods to make sure you are adequately hydrated. For those who like to calculate things, it is recommended you consume one litre of fluids for every 23 kg of your bodyweight. Another method is to have enough fluids so that you urinate clear 5 times per day, with 2 of these being soon after your training session.
Stretching is an essential part of both your warm up and cool down process, and results in a feeling of increased muscle control, flexibility, and range of motion. There are two main forms of stretching – dynamic and static. Dynamic stretching should be implemented during your warm up phase, whilst static stretching should be used during your cool down phase.
Self-myofascial release (eg. foam rolling)
Foam rolling is an extremely popular tool for muscle repair for its “self-myofascial” release mechanism. Myofascial release is a mechanism used by therapists by applying a low load and dragging force across layers of soft-tissue in the body. Over time the body will “release” tissue and your mobility will be restored. The benefits of this self-applied massage include increased blood flow throughout the body, increased movement, mobility and range of motion, and decreases the chances of injury after your workout.
Active rest is exactly what it implies, resting while remaining active to some degree. New research shows that engaging in “low-intensity” exercise during your rest days will maintain your fitness levels and assist in the repair process of your muscles. This is due to flushing out lactic acid build up and pushing oxygen into the muscles to help with their repair, without imposing undue stress on the injured muscles. Types of active rest include activities such walking, bike riding, or a light hike, where your target heart rate sits between 60-65% of your maximum.
Make an effort to optimise these things and I promise you will notice the benefits! If you have any questions on how to improve your recovery then contact me today!