We’ve all been there at one time or another. You have a really great workout only to wake up sore, exhausted, or completely unmotivated to conquer the next workout. The reason? You aren’t recovering fast enough. Although there are individual differences in recovery time, optimal recovery can be achieved by doing a few simple things
- Pay attention to your workout nutrition. Give your body the tools it needs to repair the damage you just did. After a hard workout your body needs some easily-digestible carbohydrates and protein in the first 30 min after exercise. While protein shakes are popular (and delicious), low fat chocolate milk is just as good (though perhaps more expensive these days). Many people also benefit from having a good meal with healthy carbs, protein, and fruits or veggies about an hour later. Think oatmeal protein pancakes, sweet potato with chicken and broccoli, that kind of thing.
- Get enough sleep. This is when the magic happens. When you sleep your body releases growth hormone and other chemicals that tell your body to repair and adapt. You literally get fitter overnight.
- Cool down & stretch it out after exercise. If you are doing high intensity training, easy aerobic activity like walking for a few minutes at the end of your workout will help your body process the lactic acid in your muscles. Stretching after your workout can also help reduce muscle soreness the next day.7
- Take a cold shower. Cryotherapy is the therapeutic use of cold and if you’ve ever been to a football training camp, you will be familiar with the use of ice water tubs to reduce sore muscles after workouts. Why does it work? Intense exercise damages your muscles and causes inflammation (swelling). What do we do to lower inflammation? Apply ice. Makes sense.
- Eat enough calories. If you aren’t eating enough to support your training, your recovery (and thus, your performance) is going to be terrible. Obviously you don’t want to eat too much either, but you can make small adjustments until you find your sweet spot.
- Stay hydrated. Our cells are made up of a high percentage of water so keep drinking water throughout the day. If you’re thirsty, chances are you’ve already lost 2-3% of your body’s water.
- Supplements can help. Glutamine and BCAAs are amino acids (protein building blocks) that can help improve recovery time. A small dose of sodium can also improve the transport of glucose into your cells that need them (most protein powders have some sodium in them but you can also salt your food if you don’t have any medical reason not to).
- Alternate training volume. You simply cannot go all out all the time. If you are overtraining your recovery will be poor and your performance will suffer. Basically, you are shooting yourself in the foot here.
Hope this is helpful!