Now that the Summer is quickly approaching (or, at least, it should be!), many of you are kicking your workouts into high gear. I can see many of you pushing more in the gym and am happy to hear that you’ve added at least a session or more of other exercise outside the gym.
However, if you want to avoid being overtired, injured (as a result of overtraining) or stagnating at a plateau, you must remember to spend time recovering. Yes people, I believe that the most ignored aspect of an exercise program is recovery. Now, understand that while the word “recovery” is listed as a noun in the dictionary, the definition is, “The act or process of a return to a normal or better condition.” Therefore, given the words “act” and “process”, I’d like to consider it a verb in the sense that recovery is “active” by its own definition.
What does that all mean? Simply put, it means that if you do not help your body recover, it will not perform at its best and eventually breakdown; leaving you short of your goals and full of disappointment and despair.
So, on the advice from one of my most avid readers, here are a variety of ways you can make sure your body is truly benefiting from all your hard work.
First, you can immediately start the recovery process the second your workout is over by cooling down. Continuing to move around at a very low intensity for five to 10 minutes or strecthing after a workout helps remove lactic acid from your muscles and may reduce muscles stiffness.
Next, replenish lost fluids. Water, as you know, speeds up the metabolic process, transports nutrients to all parts of the body and eliminates the risk of dehydration. A good measure is to weigh yourself before an intense workout and immediately after, then take the number of pounds lost during the exercise session and replenish eight ounces for each.
Then, eat an appropriate “post-workout” meal within 60 minutes of the end of your session. The meal should include high quality carbohydrates and protein. For example; a glass of low-fat chocolate milk, some egg whites and a cup of oatmeal, whole-grain toast smeared with peanut butter and sliced banana, yogurt topped with low sugar granola and berries or a cup of bean soup with vegetables. Remember, also lumped in with your post-workout meal should be a regular healthy daily meal plan. Your “pre-workout” meal(s) and subsequent “feedings” also play an important role in how your body recovers. However, you should know that grazing several times a day on healthy foods is always recommended.
The last two aspects of ensuring proper recovery are avoiding overtraining and rest. While, in some cases they can be the same thing. Here I will make some distinctions. One avoids overtraining by designing a smart workout routine in the first place. If you want to train twice a day or everyday, be smart about it. Follow an intense workout with a moderate workout. Perform different activities. Lift weights in the morning. Play tennis at night. Don’t go full speed all the time. This will also get you to your goal faster by confusing the body which helps eliminate plateaus.
Lastly, rest/sleep! That’s right you gotta find time to sleep. I know you’re all busy and there are not enough hours in the day, but if you can find the time to get somewhere between six to eight hours a night, you should be good to go the next day.