Dedication to your physical fitness goals and sticking to them is a work in itself. You need to show up several times a week, work hard, lift heavy – and you know how aching and burning it may leave you feeling sometimes. But if your goal is to grow your muscles, it’s not just what you do with the weights that matter. You need to show your body equal attention between sessions. In fact, it’s what you do outside of the gym that grows muscles. Any good personal trainer will emphasise the significance of the recovery. When you lift heavy weights, your muscles will suffer microtears – they are actually broken down. But don’t worry, your body will begin repair almost immediately. That’s where you need to help it – prioritising post-workout recovery is the best way to help your body be back in the game as soon as possible. Here are six ways to maximise your post-workout recovery.
Replace Lost Fluids To Aid Post-Workout Recovery
Exercise, especially heavy exercise, will likely cause a lot of fluid loss. You should be replacing it during exercise, but filling up after is an easy and foolproof way to boost your recovery. Having plenty of water will improve your bodily functions, especially metabolic function and nutrient transfer in the body. If you are an endurance athlete – say, training for a marathon or a half marathon – it’s even more important for you to take care about adequate fluid replacement because you will lose large amounts of water during hours of sweating.
Pay Attention To Your Pre-Workout Nutrition
What you eat throughout the day, as well as after your gym session, has a great impact on the quality of your recovery. Even the foods you eat before can play an important role in your recovery. That’s because digestion is a lengthy process, and any proteins and carbohydrates that you take before the workout will still be in your body afterword. It’s no wonder then that it’s important to choose what you eat wisely. Your goal should be that your diet consists mainly of high-quality lean protein (think chicken, white fish) and complex carbohydrates (rice, lentils, whole-grain pasta and bread). To avoid cramps or digestive issues, it’s best to eat your pre-workout meal about two hours prior to the workout. Some athletes also like taking BCAAs before and during a workout, because there have been substantial reported benefits.
You have to rest to recover, that’s a given. It doesn’t mean that you should spend your day on your couch between sessions, but you should definitely relax a bit, rest and allow the repair and recovery process to happen. If you let your body take care of itself, you’ll see how great it is at recovery given some time. Resting is also a mentally important element of your workout routine, because you’ll achieve best results, both in performance and physical fitness, if you’re allowing yourself to step away from lifting and thinking about lifting sometimes. And it definitely feels good: being relaxed at home, watching something on Netflix and then going to bed. That’s one of the best things you can do for yourself when you’re trying hard exercising.
Perform Active Recovery
Sure, we just emphasised that it’s not necessary to do nothing all the time when you’re not exercising, all in the name of recovery. Active recovery is also important, and it’s comprised of movements that you might be doing already, without knowing how important they are. Walking to the store and biking around your block help your muscles repair and refuel faster, as gentle movement improves circulation which helps promote nutrient and waste product transport throughout the body. Light cardio such as this, or bodyweight exercises, help relieve soreness by stimulating blood flow and improving circulation. If you find yourself suffering from muscular tightness, you should get a foam roller. Rolling over any part of your body that feels tight can bring much relief. It has to hurt a bit, but that’s a good type of pain! Since you can find and buy gym equipment online, a great roller can be delivered to your doorstep, and help you on your way to recovery. Roll every time after a workout, and soon you’ll be wondering how you could ever have lived without it.
Don’t Skip Stretching
Stretching might be the single most underrated factor in muscle growth. When you’re flexible, and you have muscle pliability, it’ll ease muscular gains. You should aim for at least 10 minutes of stretching, while 20 is great. It’s a great way to relieve tension in your muscles, and it could even downplay the soreness you experience later. And apparently, if you engage in prolonged stretching, along with moderate exercise and diet control, it can reduce cholesterol and reverse hardening of the arteries. So don’t skip stretching!
Get Some Quality Sleep
We all know we should get some quality sleep, but there are still many people out there who think they function on less than six hours of sleep. The thing is, they probably don’t. Adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep every night, and even if you feel alright with less, chances are it has messed with your metabolism. Why take any risks? Sleep is the downtime that your body needs to restore itself, so why take that away from it? If you feel that you have to skimp on sleep, reconsider your activities and priorities, because sleep should be one of your core appointments with yourself. Your body performs protein synthesis during sleep, incorporating protein into your muscles to strengthen them, while simultaneously balancing your hormone levels. That’s your body’s ultimate recovery, so shut the blinds, and have a good night’s sleep.
Whatever your fitness goals are, they are likely to be reached more easily if you devote just as attention to recovery as you do to your actual performance in the gym. Slow down, get some rest, and enjoy reaping the benefits of your work!