Have you been going hard at the gym lately in hopes of dropping some weight before the holidays but not seeing any changes? Even if you are eating right and working out often, you might be missing an important component of training.
Fitness professionals and athletes know the importance of recovery, but do you? Without decent “recovery,” your body can’t heal and adapt to the stress of exercise. So to help you make the most of your recovery time after going hard in the gym, here are several tips:
1. Catch more zzzzs
Sleep is something necessary. Some people need more of it than others, but everyone needs to sleep after crushing your goals in the gym. Sleep studies have proven that it is the prime time for the body to synthesize protein, aiding in the repair and growth of muscles and building endurance.
For normal people, you should be at least getting 7 hours of quality sleep when you are working out often. For athletes, you might need up to 9 hours for the body to fully recover.
2. Musically inclined
When you are trying to power through a tough workout, nothing is going to get you to the end of the set like a motivating music track. However, listening to some relaxing music while you are cooling down is also going to put your body into rest and repair mode faster than a bouncy pop melody. Slow tempo songs reduce blood pressure too. This is key in helping the body recovery.
A lot of people get the wrong idea about stretching. You want to avoid static stretching before your workout, and you want to do just a little of it afterward. Stretching is best combined with your workout after compound movements, like squats and upper body supersets.
You can help your body remain limber so your technique stays on point. If you are relieving muscular tension proactively, then you are reducing the chance of injury and soreness later.
Another way to “stretch” is to use a foam roller. Rolling out your muscles with a foam or semi-rigid roller is an excellent way to achieve self-myofascial release. This gets rid of knots in the muscles and also prevents imbalances. Not exactly the most comfortable form of stretching and massage, but it sure does help!
4. Active recovery
To follow up with stretching, you want an active recovery day. Active recovery should be done when you do not go to the gym. This involves light movement like walking to the store or along a wooded trail, taking an easy bike ride, playing badminton, or doing some yoga.
Bodyweight exercise is also okay, especially if it focuses on isometric exercises and light calisthenics like planks. A little bit of blood flow is fantastic for decreasing soreness.
5. Pre and post workout nutrition
If you want to recover correctly, then you need to get serious about your nutrition. What you eat before and after your workout is crucial to how well your body gets over a vigorous bout of exercise. Choose your foods wisely.
You do not want to eat something full of fat and protein before a workout because your body can’t use that immediately. Nor do you want a bunch of complex carbs right after a workout, either. Be sure to use BCAAs before a workout to encourage the muscles to absorb the appropriate nutrients.
And afterward? You are going to want protein. High-quality protein. Fast-acting carbohydrates will also replenish your glycogen and insulin levels, which keeps you from crashing and burning.
6. Chocolate milk and potassium
When it comes to working out and mastering nutrition, few foods are as perfect as chocolate milk and bananas. The protein and chocolatey-goodness of the beverage can work to jumpstart muscle growth, and the carbohydrates can decrease the time your muscles need to heal.
Plus, the calcium is key for muscular energy. This is why bananas are also excellent. Potassium, present in bananas and potatoes, needs to be combined with calcium to prevent cramping and soreness. Eat up!
7. Compression garments
For many athletes, compression garments are a wonderful tool that helps muscles recover between intense rounds of exercise. If you want to regain energy at an accelerated pace, even at the gym, then consider purchasing quality compression pants, socks, and shirts. The better your blood can circulate and transport oxygen to the muscles, the better you are going to feel.
Read also – The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Fitspiration
Recovery is as important for your fitness goals as actually getting to the gym. If you are not recovering correctly, then your gains are not going to be as miraculous as you had hoped. Be sure to make use of these tips so you can get stronger and faster and leaner in no time at all. And if you have some recovery tips of your own, be sure to let us know in the comments section.