Recovery. We all need it, but we don’t really take it seriously. We live for the gym and the addictive high it gives us. It’s impossible to go out and feel amazing or sexy when you’ve skipped your workout that day.
Those of us who are 110% committed find it so hard to take that needed day off. Often the excuse is at least one body part is always resting. Legs on Monday, so then anything goes for Tuesday, and the cycle continues.
Suddenly its 35 days at the gym without a day off, and our body isn’t happy. We need to fuel correctly to exert energy and burn maximum calories efficiently. But what’s equally important is all those body parts we work so hard to improve also need their time to rest and recover properly.
“No pain no gain” is a saying we all love, and it’s true! That two-day post-workout soreness can be a celebration, but it can also be immobilizing with the thought of the stairs as a worst nightmare.
But strength and muscle gains do also happen off the gym floor; its called recovery! When you can’t climb those stairs, your body is talking to you, so listen.
An injury time out is way longer than a day off from the gym. If we can’t take that one day off per week, here are a few ways to cheat around working out seven days a week and still do our best to recover quickly.
No-one sleeps enough! But the best thing to do is sleep more. Our muscles need to relax just like our minds. They will listen better in the morning if they’re taken care of the night before. Performance on exhaustion can never compete with one that’s rested. It’s a no-brainer.
Music is also an incredible way to relax. Play something that calms you down after your workout. Create a “cool-down” list on your iPod. Go stretch and breathe. We all love our pump-up tunes to work out, so also fall in love with the ones that help your heart rate calm down.
We are what we eat! Increase your protein all day long. We need protein in the morning to fuel up for the day, and when we are full, we crave less. If you are not a morning person, then including even a little protein before you hit the gym helps to repair and strengthen damaged muscles.
Drink a protein shake or have a protein-rich meal after you work out to help you refuel and recover throughout the rest of the day. Add in some extra protein before bed and give your body nutrients to rest on.
Going to sleep hungry never works. Another dinner isn’t necessary, but a few slices of deli meat minus the bread, some mixed nuts or even some veggies with hummus can help us refuel and recover.
We are what we drink, too! Chocolate milk is a sweet, healthy treat that should be taken advantage of more often. It’s great after the gym or when racing from here to there.
Low-fat chocolate milk provides double the protein, helps to improve muscle recovery, keeps us hydrated, and we could all use more calcium.
Adding in tart cherry juice to your post-workout beverages can help with swelling when we overdo it. It helps fight inflammation and soreness. And of course more water! Staying hydrated is important for any good performance and recovery.
Exercising when dehydrated is dangerous for our muscles and can lead to injury. Make sure you are drinking water before, during and after your workouts.
Less alcohol always! We all love a drink or two at the end of the day, but cut down on post-workout drinks. Hydration doesn’t occur as well and unwanted sugars and calories re-enter your body when you just worked so hard to get rid of them.
Sip a drink slowly, and you and your body will thank you in the morning.
Foam rollers work wonders! Take the time and roll out your legs, back and traps. Find some pressure trigger point toys like the supernova or the double lacrosse ball that focus on releasing those tight muscles. Pain is a huge part of rolling but it helps your body recover. It helps prevent injury and can help you perform better when you work out, as well as help alleviate the knots in your muscles.
Massage is another incredible way to speed up recovery. Those of us who workout fearlessly should really be getting one a month.
It’s not always economical, so it’s even more important to incorporate foam rolling into your daily exercise routine. Try and foam roll an extra time before you go to sleep for extra body credit, and your muscles will thank you when your alarm goes off.
Napping! We all love it and we hardly get to take advantage. Those of us who can pull a nap off regularly are in the minority, but when you can steal a nap on a weekend afternoon after you workout, embrace it! Even a power nap will help your muscles recover faster.
Usually, our work and personal schedules dictate our full recovery day or “days off” and how often we have them. It’s a common practice to wait one to two days before training the same muscle group again and let them rest efficiently.
Our bodies are all different as are our ages and fitness levels but listen to yours. There is a difference between “I can’t move in a good way” and one that leads to injury.
We all steam our muscles, but it’s also good to ice them. Taking a cold bath probably isn’t at the top of your list, but your muscles will thank you. Soaking in cold water can help with inflammation and reduce soreness.
Anti-inflammatories like ginger and turmeric spices can help speed up recovery, as can the common OTC Ibuprofen and aspirin. Rest and recovery are mandatory for fitness success. Reserving the recovery time and then forcing it to become a reality is just as important as the time spent killing it at the gym. Great advice we all need to take!