Often times I get questions such as how can I get a new personal record, what can I do to be faster in so and so workout, how can I increase my muscle mass, all these questions believe it or not often times boil down to one thing, RECOVERY. This is especially the case if the person has been working on it for quite a bit of time without much effect. Recovery, more often than not is neglected because it is the last thing on our minds in the hierarchy of our fitness needs. The spot light usually goes to being faster, stronger, leaner or bigger, but if I told you that if you focus on your recovery more, and you would be able to get a lot closer to your goals, would you do it? If I told you that you not hitting that PR has more to do with your sleep rather than your consistency at the gym, would you believe it? Well, here we are going to explore a couple reasons that explain the benefits of applying three main recovery strategies and their impact on your performance.
Now before I get ahead of myself and move forward you must be asking yourself, what does recovery even mean? Recovery in a nutshell means all the activities post-exercise that allow our bodies to repair and go back to a normal, pre-exercise state (read Coach Roman’s article about homeostasis here). With this in mind, three main and simple strategies you can apply that will go a long way and have effects almost immediately will be:
I can’t stress this enough, if you sleep four hours and then hit the Box as hard as you can, you are basically doing a lot more harm to yourself than good. Our bodies believe it or not do not build muscles or get faster while we workout, those are the results of sleep, especially adaptations such as losing body fat or increasing lean muscle mass happen during sleep. When you sleep you release certain hormones, such as growth hormone and testosterone, etc, that repair our body tissues and also release chemicals that help calm down our nervous system after we enjoy those heavy squats sessions. It has been well documented that 8hrs of sleep is a good amount of time for the body to recover, but as with many things, the answer is it depends, some people need more than others. If for whatever reason you are unable to reach 8 hrs of sleep, try to increase your sleep by half hr. at a time. A little more sleep goes a long way with recovery.
Nutrition, nutrition provides the building blocks of the recovery material that your body needs and uses to repair itself. Without a proper nutritional intake thats just right for you, you leave a lot of the benefits of your workouts on the table. If you want to feel better, and perform even better, then eat so you can improve in both these areas.
Lastly, why be early to class and last to leave after class? I can tell you from experience that we are all tight in certain areas, whether it’s from sitting too long or using your arms over and over at work. Sedentarism is a syndrome that we all have to battle in our own ways, which is why coming in early to class to open up areas that are particularly tight for you is so important. After class, staying around to allow yourself to properly cool down after a tough workout is going allow your body to recover faster, by stretching those muscles that have taken a toll from the workout. Also, stretching after the workout allows your body’s nervous system to calm down, instead of being overly engaged by our body’s fight or flight mechanism.
If you want to feel better and improve your performance in all areas of life, I highly suggest you start on these recovery aspects. The benefits you will experience will go beyond the walls of the gym!