Essential for Effective Recovery

Woman stretches, an activity essential to good recoveryProgress. It’s made in the gym and the kitchen…And on the couch?!

It’s true, you won’t get stronger or leaner without lifting a few weights and eating a few nutritious meals, but it’s also true you won’t get stronger or leaner without a little (smart) rest either. Recovery is an essential part of an effective workout regime, allowing your muscles time to heal and adrenal system time to return to stasis.

But what exactly is “smart” recovery? Read on for our recovery requisites:

 

KNOW YOUR RECOVERIES

Recovery takes a lot of different forms. It’s important to implement recovery practices immediately after a workout, but also schedule whole recovery days into your week—both full rest days and active ones, too.

What’s the difference? A full recovery day, or rest day, is completely free of exercise, where an active recovery day still includes some easy movement to keep mobility and actively stretch out muscle tightness. That could be a long walk through the park or a recovery-based yoga class, to name a few.

How often you need a full rest or active rest day varies person to person, based on fitness level, goals, lifestyle and many more things. The easy answer is listen to your body: If you’re feeling drained while working out or starting to get small injuries, take a rest day and let your body recoup.

 

GET ENOUGH SLEEP

Probably not shocking that good sleep=good recovery, considering good sleep=good life.

Ample sleep plays a critical role in recovery because it allows the body to recover both physically and mentally. Unless you’re a sleepwalker, your muscles get the most rest in the 24 hours of a day when you are asleep (in fact, during REM phases they’re temporarily paralyzed). Plus, sleep allows cortisol, adrenaline and blood pressure to all decrease.

Just like rest days, there’s some wiggle room from person to person on the amount of sleep needed to reap the benefits (and curve the deficits of deprivation). But for the most part, all adults need at least 7 hours. Teens and children need even more.

 

DRINK WATER

 …And then drink some more water. And maybe a little bit more after that.

Hydration is key to all aspects of athletic performance, recovery included. Following a workout, it’s important to drink enough not only to replace the amount you lost, but more on top of that. For some, that much water might be revolting; if that’s the case, you can also rehydrate with other fluids. Drinks with sodium are often recommended as they help you retain water; drinks with protein (artificially protein-supplemented or natural protein sources like chocolate milk) can also be a good option to get liquids and supplement protein for muscle-rebuilding at the same time.

 

EAT

There’s a lot to say about recovery nutrition; in fact, there’s so much we’re saving most of it for its own blog. But there’s two main takeaways: Don’t cut carbs and don’t cut calories.

For post-workout recovery, you need carbohydrates to replace the glycogen your workout depleted. But aim for complex carbs over simple ones. And on recovery days, be sure not to restrict your calories. Your body uses a lot of energy to repair your muscles on these days and it’ll need a lot of calories to do that.

 

Ready for some good recovery? Stay tuned next week for our blog diving into the benefits of Yoga!

Until then, remember: Rest so you can Rise, Soul Squad!