Being smarter about recovery can help you become faster, leaner, stronger and fitter. During recovery your body resets itself: hormone levels re-balance, inflammation goes down, liver and muscles stock up on fuel, cells rid themselves of lactic acid and other waste products, and muscles and connective tissues lay down collagen and patch up tears. Many professionals spend up to half their total training hours on recovery to fully net the benefits of all their hard work.
Smart recovery really works. One runner had so many nagging injuries that she could not make it through a session. When she implemented recovery strategies, she not only felt better, she shaved almost 30 seconds per mile off her Personal Record (PR) in a five mile race.
It's important to limit intense workouts to three days a week. Plan your routine carefully so you're not challenging the same muscles in the same way consecutive days. Overdoing creates hormonal havoc, endocrine burnout and sets your body up for injury.
Try these top techniques to maximize your workout, recover faster and see the results in power and a sculpted body.
FOAM ROLL, THEN STRETCH
Rollers help increase circulation and relax knotted tissues. Stretching returns muscles to their normal resting length and helps line up new collagen fibers that your body creates during recovery. Roll before stretching because the pressure helps turn off overactive muscles so you can stretch them more easily.
ICE RIGHT AWAY; HEAT THE NEXT DAY
Ice for 10 minutes after a tough workout. This slows blood flow to the area, reducing inflammation and swelling. The next day, to combat stiffness and spasms, use heat. The warmth speeds blood flow to the area, relaxing muscles.
EAT PROTEIN AND CARBS SHORTLY AFTER YOUR WORKOUT
Muscles are primed to take in protein for 30 - 60 minutes after your workout. Proteins will start the repair process and carbs will refuel your glycogen. Your snack should contain 10 - 20 grams of protein and a 1:2 or 1:3 ratio of protein to carbs. Re-hydrate as well. Drink 16 - 32 oz of water during the post-workout window.
SLEEP WELL; KEEP MOVING
Lack of sleep leads to fatigue, depressed immunity and higher stress hormones all of which contribute to a less-than-stellar workout. Aim for 7 - 9 hours of sleep each night. On your rest days, keep moving. A little activity will help flush out any remaining lactic acid and keep your muscles loose. Stretch, ride a bike for 15 minutes or do yoga.
NEXT WEEK: FOAM ROLLING TECHNIQUES
Stay Active, Keep Moving and
Enjoy Your Food