The old adage is “Your next workout will only be as productive as the recovery from your last.” It’s kind of a mouthful, but those words hold some serious water.
We pour a tremendous amount of effort and energy into training, strenuous activity that probably lasts somewhere between five and ten hours per week. Obviously, in the scheme of that week, training encompasses only a small portion of the total 168 hours. That’s what this article is about, the other 160.
None of us are immune to being an over-thinker. Personally, I listen to several podcasts, read all sorts of research and spend a lot of time between my ears contemplating the best ways to train; I contemplate methods I can use to squeeze the last 1% of muscle onto my frame or lift those additional 10 pounds. That’s me. Maybe you haven’t yet eclipsed an 8:00 pace over 26.2 miles or your early morning swims have been lackluster. It’s absolutely, entirely possible that your training is perfect, but your recovery is deficient.
It’s not the sexiest or most awe-inspiring answer but extremely important. In order to ensure your recovery is appropriate, consider implementing these 3 methods.
One of the most important recovery techniques may begin minutes after the workout ends. There’s a reason why high-level sport teams and athletes implement “cool-down” routines. The purpose of the cool-down is not to increase that session’s training stimulus but instead to enable maximization of the subsequent session by reducing delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and priming the musculature for another bout of performance. Deep breath.
Research1 has theorized that the beneficial effect of this “active recovery” comes from enhanced blood flow to the tissue and/or the removal of various metabolic wastes. This scientific rationale is pretty sound.
But what does this improved recovery look like in practice? Practically speaking, this involves concluding a workout with 10-15 minutes of steady-state exercise such as walking, light calisthenics or yoga. Personally, I find these means of exercise to be a calming, necessary finish to a strenuous workout.
Perhaps the most vital cog in the recovery machine is appropriate nutritional practices. After a vigorous workout, the taxed muscles are broken down to some small, purposeful degree. Therefore, it’s prudent we build them back up. Adequate protein intake within a couple hours post-training is crucial. The notion of a “protein-window” has been strongly debunked as it pertains to some magical 30-minute time frame. Consuming an adequate amount of protein within a couple hours may be a more realistic timeline and enough to optimize recovery.
Carbohydrate ingestion is also pertinent. Consuming a meal or supplement with some high-glycemic carbohydrates is best practice post-workout, as these carbohydrates are quick to digest, and be stored as future, potential energy. This is especially relevant if you have another heavy bout of training in the next 24 hours.
If convenience and an ideal ratio of carbohydrate to protein is your thing, consider supplementing with CNP’s Recover formula. It boasts a great-tasting, 2:1 ratio of easy to digest carbohydrates to proteins. This product also contains a quality amount of Vitamin C, which aids in the regulation of skin tissues, tendons and blood vessels.
You had to know sleep would make the list somewhere. I include it not because it’s a mandate, but instead because it’s extremely important. Even if the detriments with mood, cognition, wakefulness and productivity aren’t enough, research2 also highlights the importance of adequate sleep for optimal strength performance in athletes.
As a physiotherapist, I ask each and every patient…
- “How’s your sleep?”
“Is it consistent?”
- “Is it consistent?”
- “How many hours do you have per night?”
- “Do you struggle to fall asleep?”
I ask regardless of whether the patient is a weekend warrior, 82-year-old grandfather of five or elite weightlifter. Inadequate sleep has the potential to impact each and every one of us, so take control of your sleep and ensure you’re getting a consistent night of slumber.