Rest and recovery are essential for any workout regimen. How you treat your body after a workout directly affects muscle gains and performance. Proper refueling after a workout gives way to effective training. Yet, some gym-goers don’t view recovery habits as seriously as they should.
Why is Recovery Important?
Recovery after strength training is crucial for muscle development, tissue repair, and strength building. Though planned recovery is beneficial after every fitness session, it is extremely critical after a heavy weight-lifting workout.
Simply put, each muscle requires approximately 24 to 48 hours to repair and rebuild tissue. Working it too soon after your previous gym session could actually workout against your goals. Therefore, individuals who are interested in building muscles should never work the same muscle group for two consecutive days.
Common Recovery Methods
While there are many methods for recovery, here are some of the most common:
- Fluid Replacement: During a workout, your body loses quite a bit of fluid. Water supports metabolic function and nutrient transport, so filling up after a gym session is ideal. Performing exercises on a daily basis or having a goal of building muscle exacerbates the need for fluid replenishment. Drinking enough water will improve all bodily functions and is crucial for endurance athletes.
- Replenishment of Electrolytes: The body is pushed to the max during endurance and cardiovascular workouts, which means that every vitamin and mineral reserve is utilized for function and energy. Consuming foods and drinks that aid in recovery directly thereafter can help reduce recovery time and soreness. Drinking a sports drink for replenishing electrolytes, like Halo Sport flavored drink, can aid in replenishing the stores that were used during muscle burn out and the act of sweating. In addition, refueling your body with healthy, recovery foods is essential. Eating high-quality protein and carbohydrates within 60 minutes of a workout is ideal.
- Schedule a Rest Day: When you have big goals, it can be difficult to slow down and take a break. However, resting your muscles is a necessary step in obtaining muscle gains. The human body has the awe-inspiring ability to take care of and replenish itself when given proper time. Resting and relaxing gives the body time to heal and restore itself at a natural pace.
- Look for Ways to Actively Recover: If you aren’t the type to sit still, the least you can do is look for active recovery exercises. By moving your body at a slower pace than normal, your body still reaps the benefits of muscle growth and regeneration. Recovery-friendly exercises such as yoga, walking, and stretching are perfect options.
- Reap the Benefits of an Ice Bath: This method of recovery has long been utilized by professional athletes across the world. After an intense workout, taking a dip into an ice bath has proven to aid in recovery, reduce muscle soreness, and prevent future injury. In theory, rapidly dilating and constricting blood vessels helps flush out waste products in bodily tissues. Some athletes swear by alternating a few minutes of very hot water with 30 seconds of freezing cold water as a type of water contrast therapy.
Listen to Your Body
It is so easy to get caught up in our aspirations that we sometimes forget to listen to our driving force: our bodies. If you are feeling sore and tired, sometimes you may just need a longer break. Most often your body will tell you what it needs when it needs it–you just have to listen.