Fit Tip: 3 Ways to Achieve Optimal Recovery

Your workout performance is only as good as your ability to recovery from previous sessions. If your training is too large of a stressor and your body is unable to recover from it, then overtime you can get into an overtrained state and inhibit your ability to make gains, or even worse, get injured. Apart from smart training and programming, there are certain steps you can take to enhance the body’s ability to recover from training sessions. Try these top 3 tips and reap the benefits of increased performance.

  1. Post workout nutrition: When your training is very demanding, you burn a lot of glycogen, or stored carbohydrate. The body can only store 500 grams of glycogen. About 100 grams are used to fuel the brain and other organs for daily activity. The other 400 grams can be used to fuel high intensity workouts. This means that after hard training, we need to replenish glycogen stores. This is best done through healthy carbohydrate sources. Some great ways to do this are smoothies containing fruit, fresh fruit, rice or potatoes. These are healthy, carb rich foods that can restore glycogen quickly and prepare you for the next workout.
  2. Soft-tissue integrity: Demanding training puts a tremendous load on the tissues of the body. Muscles, ligaments, tendon, and fascia are all taxed to their limits and often undergo microtrauma. This is a beneficial aspect of training as this is how the tissue can adapt to new demands and grow stronger and more resilient. It is in the recovery window that we actually grow stronger, not during the workout. We can improve the recovery capabilities of the tissues by using targeted stretching, foam rolling, massage, or lacrosse balls. Rigorous strength training can often times also leave people with increased tone in the utilized musculature. Using modalities like massage or stretching can help to deal with this.
  3. Sleep: The most crucial and under-utilized aspect of recovery is sleep. There are so many athletes and fitness enthusiasts who train hard, eat well, but don’t get nearly enough sleep. Even an hour or two of missed sleep has a cumulatively negative effect on your training. The slow-wave stage of sleep is where testosterone and growth hormone are released which have a hugely beneficial effect on your strength abilities. If you are learning new techniques and skills in your training, sleep is where you store these movements in the brain so you can call on them at a later date and improve technical efficiency over time. Finally, missing sleep can hugely deter training motivation. Tired people are far less likely to motivate themselves to train on a regular basis.

These are our top 3 tips to improve your ability to bounce back from hard training sessions while still making progress and avoiding overtraining injuries. Remember, you can only train as hard as is your ability to recover. So don’t train hard and eat unhealthy foods while missing out on crucial sleep and stretching practices. Do everything possible to be the best you can be.

Vlad Klipinitser of Fitness Together Lake Forest offers these tips in a weekly Fit Tip blog to help get people moving and motivated toward a healthier lifestyle. 

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