You go to the gym day in and day out. You lift weights and don’t neglect cardio. But how are you doing with workout recovery? That is, are you giving your body the proper rest it needs? Proper recovery from workouts, especially from ones that are taxing, is vital if you want to prevent injury, maximize performance, get stronger, and reach your goals. Check out these tips for ensuring that you’re giving your body the TLC that it needs!
1. Get Your ZZZs
Prioritize your sleep! Insufficient sleep interferes with your body’s ability to recover from workouts. While you’re sleeping, your body releases Growth Hormone, which promotes recovery and regeneration. Lack of sleep can also lead to higher levels of ghrelin (the hunger hormone) and lower insulin sensitivity. This causes inflammation and increased cortisol levels (the stress hormone). The bottom line? Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
2. NEVER Skip Your Stretches
Look, I get it. Not everyone likes to stretch. However, stretching is super important for proper recovery and for reducing muscle soreness. When you stretch, like a quadricep stretch, blood flow to that muscle is reduced. However, when the stretch is released, blood flow rapidly elevates. This increase in blood flow delivers nutrients to the area and promotes recovery. So while stretching might be torturous, it’s super beneficial in the long run!
3. Drink Plenty of Water
Why is hydration important for recovery? Think about it. When you work up a sweat in the gym, your body loses hydration. This is a problem because your muscles are about 75% water. By drinking plenty of water before, during, and after your workout, you’ll encourage muscular repair and protein synthesis, which leads to muscle being rebuilt. A general rule of thumb is to drink eight 8 oz. glasses per day. However, if you are particularly active or sweat a lot, more will be needed.
4. Take a Good Look at Your Diet
Are you eating enough protein? Athletes should be getting about 1.2 – 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Are you eating plenty of fruits and vegetables? They contain antioxidants and other nutrients that reduce oxidative stress and boost recovery.
5. Rest and Repeat!
Resting is just as important as the actual workout itself! Inadequate rest could lead to overtraining and exhaustion. Resistance training causes microscopic tears to be created in your muscles. At rest, your body is busy rebuilding what you have broken down. This is what allows muscles to grow stronger, larger, and more “toned”. However, this regeneration process is not possible without sufficient rest! It’s recommended that you take at least one rest day per week.