— ‘It’s not just what you do in the gym’
While working out and staying in the fitness game is important to stay fit, rest and recovery are an equally essential part of any workout routine. While a muscle usually needs around 2 – 4 days to repair and rebuild, working it again too soon may lead to tissue breakdown instead of building.
Here are some ways to get your post-workout plans on track.
- No Pain, No Gain – Within Limits
“Pushing beyond your limits is a good thing, but do it within limits.”
“No pain, no gain!” has probably been your go-to phrase, as you struggled to rack a one-rep max bench press. If you constantly obliterate your body to complete exhaustion with every workout, this damage accumulates over time and your body will revert its energy to repairing the downstream effects of the damage rather than building new muscle.
Work out hard enough to push yourself past your comfort zones—trying to do more than you did the workout before, without destroying yourself entirely. This way, you’ll make solid and steady progress.
- Get Serious About Pre-Workout Nutrition
What you eat before a workout plays an important role in pre-empting the tissue-rebuilding process once the workout is over.
Digestion is a lengthy process; proteins and carbs that you consume prior to the workout will still be circulating in the body afterwards. For this reason, we recommend consuming your meals roughly two hours prior to your workout to avoid digestive issues or cramps.
- Replace Lost Fluids
You lose a lot of fluid during exercise, to ensure that you have plenty of water to improve every bodily function.
- Eat Healthy Recovery Foods
After a session in the gym, you need to refuel if you expect your body to recover, repair tissues, get stronger and be ready for the next challenge.
Aim to eat within 60 minutes of the end of your workout and make sure you include some high-quality protein and complex carbohydrate.
- Rest and Relax
Time is one of the best ways to recover from just about any illness and this also applies to fitness regimes. Your body has the capacity to take care of itself if you give it time.
- Stretch It Out
“If your ankles are too tight, you can’t go deep enough and squat to reap maximum benefits.“
After a tough workout, make sure you allow at least 20 minutes after a workout to cool down and stretch. Stretching with moderate exercise and diet control will reduce cholesterol and significantly reverse hardening of the arteries.
- Perform Active Recovery
Rest days give your muscles a well-deserved break from a self-induced beating at the gym. Indulge in some light movement like walking to the store, an easy bike ride, throwing a Frisbee around, etc. This is known as “active” recovery which in theory, helps the muscles repair and refuel faster.
- Get a Massage
Massage improves circulation while allowing you to fully relax. This in turn helps in reduces chronic stress that can significantly influence how you feel on a day-to-day basis as well as how quickly you recover.
- Take an Ice Bath
Some athletes use ice baths, ice massage or contrast water therapy (alternating hot and cold showers) to recover faster, reduce muscle soreness and prevent injury. The theory behind this method is that by repeatedly constricting and dilating blood vessels helps remove waste products in the tissues.
- Sleep Well
“Sleep is not just for relaxing. This is the necessary downtime that your body needs to restore itself.”
While you sleep, amazing changes take place in your body. During sleep, your body produces hormones which are responsible for repair tissue growth. Aim to target a minimum of 7 hours of sleep. One great way to sleep early is to commit to a “technology blackout,” during which you don’t touch any sort of technology, after a certain time.
- Eat Potassium-Rich Foods
Consider including a source of potassium in your post-workout meals. Potassium, among other nutrients, is a key mineral which plays a role in muscular energy. Bananas or potatoes are good potassium sources.
- Listen to Your Body for a Faster Recovery
The most important thing you can do to recovery is to listen to your body. If you are feeling tired or notice a decreased performance you may need more recovery time. On paying attention, in most cases, your body will let you know what it needs, when it needs it. The problem for many of us is that we don’t listen to those warnings ideally when those are the first red flags.
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