As regular exercisers, we have become obsessed with training.
We set fitness goals and then choose appropriate strategies to achieve those goals. We psh our bodies hard in the gym, but as we become masters of exercise and training, we can easily lose sight of the very thing that allows us to get fitter, stronger and more resilient: recovery. The opportunity for recovery is always there – from the moment you wake up to when you go to bed. Recovery helps us to adapt to the demands of training, so that we can become fitter and healthier. Without adequate recovery, we run the risk of over-training, injury and poor health.
Fortunately, there are a number of strategies you can use to boost recovery after training. Here are our top 5 tips for maximizing your recovery.
Your recovery potential actually begins in the hours (and days) before your workout. Optimal and balanced nutrition throughout the day will affect the quality of recovery in a big way. Adequate carbohydrate, protein and fat consumption from whole, natural foods will not only ensure optimal energy during training – it will also accelerate the necessary tissue repair post-workout.
Understand how training intensity and volume affect recovery. In simple terms, intensity and volume should be managed in opposition – if you workout at a high intensity, use a lower volume (load, time, frequency), The bottom line: know your skills, ability and limits – it’s absolutely OK to push the boundaries in your workout, just don’t destroy them.
Proper hydration is more than just drinking enough water during exercise. Optimal cellular hydration is dependent on maintaining an electrolyte balance during and post-workout, to off-set any losses through sweating and other metabolic processes. Sipping on an isotonic sports drink during and after exercise will ensure electrolytes are quickly replaced, and will dramatically reduce your recovery time.
An intelligent warm up will prepare your body, allowing you to get the most out of your workout without over-training. Be sure to include activity to raise heart rate, as well as mobility and muscle activation exercises. When it comes to the cool down, be sure to lower your heart rate progressively and keep the focus on good range of movement. Flexibility exercises including foam rolling and dynamic stretching will restore circulation and boost psychological health.
While it’s always important to get enough quality sleep, there are other activities that can promote recovery, which can be practiced during the day. Meditation is one such practice that can support recovery through a combination of physical rest, breathing techniques and mindfulness. Whether it’s a 5 minute meditation post-workout or a 10 minute mediation before sleep, you will notice the recovery benefits very quickly.