The recovery process is vital in a training program—ultimately serving as the most beneficial way to enhance your overall gym performance. Overtraining, also known as under-recovery, can exhaust your muscles and build even more fatigue than what you’re already feeling. Rest assured that with the right recoverytools in your arsenal, you’ll be ready to go in no time. Follow these tried-and-true methods for an optimal workout recovery. Your muscles will thank you.
Your performance in the gym is directly affected by how many Zs you’re getting. Getting a sufficient amount of sleep enhances the release of human growth hormone, which can aid in building muscle. It’s been seen that 60-70% of HGH secretion takes place during the deepest sleep cycles. Lower energy consumption also takes place while we’re sleeping, using the food that we ate during the day to build muscle. As for mental alertness, adenosine levels fall while we’re sleeping—allowing the brain to literally recharge. Adenosine is a neurotransmitter that creates ATP. After a good night’s rest, adenosine levels will be at their highest, keeping us more alert during a workout. It’s also important to discuss the issue of muscle catabolism while we sleep; this happens because we’re in a fasted state. Consuming a casein protein shake prior to bed can help offset the damage that is done because casein is a slow-digesting protein—ultimately trickle-feeding your muscles throughout the night.
To further enhance your sleep, set a sleep time and stick with it and remember to not workout within four hours prior to bedtime. It’s also recommended to keep your room cool, around 65-75°F. Getting between cool sheets will help the body produce the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. And lastly, make sure to eliminate any light—light will wake up your brain. If needed, consider a sleep mask.
Hydration is needed for everyday activities—including working out. It’s recommended that women should consume 2.7 liters of liquid daily either through different beverages or food, and men should consume 3.7 liters daily. But when you’re hitting the gym daily, more hydration is going to be needed because the body can lose more than a quart of water within one hour of working out. If proper hydration is not maintained, then muscle fatigue and loss of coordination can occur.
As for electrolytes—sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, and phosphorus—replacement depends upon the amount of sweat that’s created.
Let food be medicine during and after an intense workout. Consuming a small snack that contains protein and some carbs can help give you the edge that you need in a workout. As for post-workout, go for a shake that’s rich in protein, it’s recommend to consume around 25g of protein post-workout. Ingesting protein immediately after a workout will pull the trigger for muscle-protein synthesis, which will positively impact muscle growth and recovery. Also consider consuming a protein-rich meal that’s coupled with essential pro-recovery fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants can help counteract any free-radical damage that took place from an intense workout—ultimately expediting recovery time
Around your muscles is a thin, elastic type of tissue called fascia. Fascia can prevent injuries by hydrating muscle fibers and maintaining the muscle’s place. Practicing self-myofascial release post-workout by using a foam roller can help relieve muscle tension—ultimately keeping your muscles moving more readily. You’ll be able to improve your mobility, ROM, and flexibility—lessening your chances of an injury and total recovery time.
The recovery process doesn’t just entail rest, but also scheduled recovery workouts. It’s recommended every three to five weeks to plan a recovery week that contains all your main lifts, but you’ll be lifting half the amount of reps and loads. This will help prevent overtraining, which will exhaust your muscles and potentially lead to physiological and chemical changes.
BY COURTNEY ANAYA, CPT