We are all very good at going to the gym and hammering ourselves with our workouts but when it comes to recovery we are not so good. Our recovery is key to optimising our training and performance. This is especially important if you are taking part in a competition over a weekend of post competition.
So why is it that we do not take enough care over our recovery? In this article we are going to look at some of the easiest and best ways to help your recovery and optimise performance.
- Sleep – This is one of the most important, if not the most important, elements of recovery. If you do not get enough sleep, no matter how many supplements and the food you eat, or any other kind of stretches you try, nothing will work. So why is sleep so important? Sleep is so important because it helps to regulate the secretion of the important recovery hormones throughout the body, especially our growth hormones. You should try to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night and 9 if possible.
- Post work out nutrition – What you eat after your workout is very important as this will help your recovery and will ultimately fuel you for your next workout. Your body needs to return to homeostasis as soon as possible so that you can build muscle and get stronger. The quickest and easiest way to start recovering is to have a protein shake as they are fast-acting, easy to digest and contain all the ingredients you need to start recovering. However I would always suggest trying to get a meal in if possible. If you are competing in a major competition then food is the best option and not a shake. A great option is to get all your food premade for you so you do not need to worry. I always use BuffBox to fuel me throughout my competitions. The best decision I ever made.
- Hydration – Make sure that you drink enough fluid during and after your workout to account for the water you would have lost as sweat during your training. It is also very important to rehydrate to reduce swelling and soreness. You can even look to have a bottle of pure coconut water to help recovery after training to help get all of the electrolytes back into your body.
- Active Recovery – Even when you are having a rest day you need to make sure that you keep the blood flowing. A recovery row, run or anything of extremely low intensity will help to optimise your recovery and eliminate muscle soreness. Carry out a recovery row or run for around 30 minutes. You may also like to add in some light squats or sets of an exercise to keep any tight muscles moving. Although active recovery is important it is also important to make sure you have one complete rest day a week to allow your body time to repair and come back stronger for the next weeks training.
- Supplements – Supplements should never be taken instead of gaining nutrients through food; they should only ever be used as an addition. The top 3 best supplements to take to aid recovery are: ZMA, Fish oil and D3. ZMA is a mixture of magnesium and zinc, sometimes with vitamin B6 added in. It is important for athletes to take ZMA as most are deficient due to the physical exertion our bodies are put under. ZMA has also been suggested to help with testosterone production and all cellular activity from oxygen uptake to ATP production alongside helping to relax muscles and tendons. Fish oil is important for athletes as it can help to reduce inflammation, improve oxygen uptake and help improve overall health and wellbeing. Finally, D3 can help to increase your power output during your workout, optimise testosterone levels and help to enhance your overall immunity. I also like to take Synbiotics SB3 from PurePharma to help keep my body balanced enabling me to preform better due to the high content of live probiotic bacteria and prebiotic fibres.
- Cryotherapy – Cryotherapy dates back many years and is the idea of jumping into a cold bath or shower after training in order to reduce inflammation. However, scientists have now suggested that to enhance recovery even more you should jump into a cold bath or shower then straight into a hot one in order to flush the body, as staying in a cold bath or shower can lead to cellular death and increase the risk of DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness).
If you are finding it hard to recover then why not try all of the above and see how much of a difference it makes to your recovery time and performance the next day when training. If you choose to carry on as you are then you can end up with adrenal fatigue. This I will cover in my next blog.