Fitness 101: 3 Keys To Quicker Recovery and Better Results
In fitness, recovery is just as important as the work. It’s one of my favorite aspects of being active; after the work is done not only did you do something positive for your health and goals but you also get to indulge in a recovery process that has been validated by a strong workout.
The rest feels better, the meals taste better, and your mindset becomes better.
What recovery isn’t, however, is an excuse to pig out on food you’d otherwise feel guilty for eating. It also isn’t an excuse to drink more alcohol and party harder.
The goal of recovery is restoring your body back to 100% by supplying it a surplus of nutrients needed to reload it’s energy stores, rebuild it’s muscular tissues, and generate the adaptions to exercise we want to see if we aim to improve.
The following are staples in my recovery process and also recommendations for you to optimize yours so you can feel better, faster and see better results.
Rules of Recovery
Rule #1 — EAT
Nutrition is 80% of the battle. Let me repeat,
NUTRITION IS 80% OF THE BATTLE
You want see weight loss if you’re eating too many calories, you want see strength gains if your protein intake is low, and you won’t restore your energy if you’re starving yourself of carbs.
The ideal post-workout meal consists of both protein, to rebuild damaged and generate new muscular tissue and prevent the breakdown of current muscular tissue, and carbs to restore glycogen stores — key energy reserves that your body relies on to sustain work.
This isn’t limited to the initial hours after exercise. The recovery process can last up to 72 hours depending on a few variables including exercise intensity and fitness level. It’s paramount to have consistency in your diet and continually provide your body with the right nutrients long after your workout.
Need details? I wrote these two articles on exercise nutrition and people LOVED them. Check them out.
And How to Build Your Optimal Post-Workout Mealmedium.com
Rule #2 — Sleep
Society has underestimated sleep for too long. Intellectually we know that sleep is important, but we lack the execution to feel its full benefits.
Lack of sleep has been linked to increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol — High levels of cortisol can change the body from an anabolic (muscle building) to a catabolic (muscle losing) state.
Whether you’re a recreational gym goer looking to improve your muscle mass, a competitive lifter who’s after strength gains, or just someone looking to improve their body composition and be leaner, this isn’t good for your goals.
While sleep isn’t the only influencing factor in cortisol levels, it’s certainly an important one. Sleep also does a lot of things the body can’t do while its awake like restore energy and mental function.
You know its important. Get more sleep.
Rule #3 — Stretching and Myofascial Release
Both stretching and myofascial release, or foam rolling as it’s more know as, play a key role in reducing soreness and restoring homeostasis to muscle tissues.
Stretching — Stretching immediately after a workout is the best time to stretch. Your muscles are still warm which means more blood circulation and so the muscles are more receptive to stretching than they would be if you were “cold”.
After a workout filled with countless muscular contractions that shorten the muscle, be it from running, jumping, lifting, or what have you, it is a good idea to take some time to stretch the muscles to return length to them.
Myofascial Release (foam rolling) — I am a very big proponent of foam rolling. It breaks up hardened, stiff connective tissue that often gets ignored and is left untreated and smooths this connective tissue out to its natural, wavy form. Foam rolling also increases blood flow to the area being treated thus providing more oxygen to the area and improving recovery.
If you aren’t sure what stretches to do or how to foam roll, check this article I wrote on this very subject where I breakdown different stretches, if and when you should apply them, and why foam rolling matters to you.
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About The Author: I’m Zach Newman. I’m an ACE Certified Personal Trainer. Conversation is insanely important to me. Its why I love creating things because creation sparks discussion and discussion is the best way to learn from each other. Whether its about fitness and health, what books to read, or what’s going on in the world today, my goal is to build the best community around conversations that better the lives of everyone involved.