The effort you put in the gym is key to your fitness success, but what you do outside of the gym also strongly affects your results. After a tough workout, you want to make sure you are doing everything you can to properly recover. This helps you maximize the effort you can put in the gym and the results you gain. Here are my seven recommended ways to properly recover from a workout
- Get enough sleep. First off, sleep is amazing. I could stay in bed all day. The benefits of going to bed early to ensure you get enough sleep is that you allow your muscles to grow and heal. Improper sleep has been shown to impair growth. Additionally, when you are rested, you’ll be able to take on the day and your workout with more ease and focus. How many times have you skipped the gym because you were tired or didn’t get enough sleep the night before? Guilty.
- Stretch. I always recommend stretching immediately after a workout to alleviate and prevent any tightening of muscles. Increasing overall flexibility improves our range of motion. Plus, I’ve been trying to do the splits for the past 3 years. I think it’ll take me another 10 to get there, but a little stretching each day goes a long way.
- Foam roll. Technically, this can count as stretching, but it also falls into the self-myofascial release (SMR) or “massage” category. It help to release tension in your muscles and joints. My favorite place to foam roll is the IT band of my left leg to release tension at my hip and my knee.
- Hydrate. Water, water, water, water! Hydrate all day before and after your workouts. Dehydration is the number one reason for fatigue. Drink up and properly (re)fuel yourself.
- Eat a balanced meal. After a workout, each a meal balanced in carbs, fat, and protein. They ALL provide the substrates to build muscle and help the healing process. Notice how “take a supplement” is not on this list. It’s because time and time again, protein/bcaa/other supplements have not been shown to make any significant difference. These studies rarely take into consideration that we consume our protein in a mixed combination with fat and carbs normally. It’s all macronutrients that help provide us with energy and substrates for muscle growth.
- Take a Rest Day (or Two). Rest days are just like sleep. Some people work out every day. Others take a day off. The benefit of taking a rest day from working out is that it allows for extra time for muscle recovery and growth. It also provides you with the essential time off to take a break and refocus. Going at breakneck speed each day can burn you out quickly. Enjoy a day off, then return with a fresh mind and attitude.
- Don’t workout the same muscle two days in a row. This goes hand-in-hand with taking a rest day. If you work out chest on Monday, don’t work out your chest again on Tuesday. Studies have shown that muscle recovery takes up to an average of 48 hours. Performing same muscle isolation exercises on consecutive days can hinder the muscle recovery and growth process.
Lift strong and eat clean, friends.