Physical Activity

How to Recover Faster

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Wouldn’t it be great if you could be fresh, fit and healthy every time you step into the gym? Let’s face it, no one likes fatigue. As an athlete, we desire to be mentally and physically strong every single session. But, how can we do it? How can we possibly recover sufficiently in time for our next workout, bearing in mind it has become the norm for athletes at all levels nowadays to perform multiple intense training sessions, day in, day out for long periods of time? Luckily, there are various methods one can implement which will allow the body to keep ticking until you require longer periods of rest, such as a deload week. But bottom line is this — if you want to be the best athlete you can be, you need to spend just as much time recovering as you are training every day.

Overtrained or under-recovered?

Being able to perform at the same intensity every workout is what we aim for. In order for us to do so, you need to ensure that from the time you leave the gym to the time you return, you are servicing your body with the correct recovery methods so that you can perform to that level of intensity every time. Generally speaking, one will train regularly and often in order to see physical progression. This is completely natural for an athlete and rightly so. The body can withstand a vast amount of stress and stress is good. Why? Because in order for your muscles to grow and for the body to get stronger, you need to put it under sufficient stress over a period of time. Research has shown that in order to increase muscle mass, stress must be put on the body, leading to increased hormone release and increased flow of nutrients into the muscle (1). However, this stress will not be worthwhile if you aren’t giving your body the attention it needs elsewhere, besides beating it down at the gym. Often when we begin to notice more fatigue, we begin to question whether or not we are overtraining. While overtraining can be a factor amongst athletes who work out regularly to extreme levels, for the average athlete, it’s probably down to the fact that you are really just under recovered. You’re currently getting in a recovery shake and eating the occasional chicken breast, but what else do you need to do? Here are some fast recovery methods you can start implementing into your daily routine.

How to Recover Faster

Hydrate

When you work out, you lose a lot of fluids and electrolytes. Solution? Hydrate! This is such a simple recovery tool yet often one which can be easily neglected. Water supports every metabolic function and nutrient transfer in the body and having plenty of water will improve every bodily function (2). Proper hydration is crucial to your athletic performance. A good way of ensuring you’re getting enough fluids on board is to keep a water bottle beside you at all times.

Nutrition

During tough workouts, your muscles are broken down. Post-workout nutrition is therefore another vital element towards recovery and muscle building and can come in the form of food and supplementation. Due to the importance of timing, a recovery shake is a great way of kick-starting the recovery process; it is quick, convenient and fast absorbing. A product such as PW1 is a complete protein source, made with high quality whey protein and with all natural ingredients for a delicious taste.
But it doesn’t stop there. While supplementation provides the initial building blocks, you need to also be thinking of a substantial meal to follow up with. Nothing beats proper food! Consuming a 2:1 ratio of carbs to protein may help reduce the severity of muscle soreness (3). Opt for some starchy carbohydrates such as sweet potato or rice and quality protein in the form of lean meats or fish.

Contrast Therapy

Many of you have seen elite athletes plunge into ice after an intense training session. Yes — whether you like it or not, ice baths do have huge benefits in being able to flush out waste products and reduce muscle swelling. However, while many of us may desire to take on the challenge, accessibility can sometimes be an issue, especially if your gym or box doesn’t have such facilities. Nonetheless, a contrast shower can deliver similar effects. You simply alternate between hot and cold water — it’s that easy! The hot water dilates your blood vessels and increases blood circulation and the cold water constricts your blood vessels and decreases blood flow. The contrast creates a pump effect that flushes your body of lactic acid and other toxins that build up during exercise (4). As a guideline, start with hot temperature for about 2-3 minutes and change to a cold temperature for 1 minute. Repeat the cycle 2-3 times.

Blood Flow

Keeping the body nimble after exercise and throughout the day will ensure your muscles don’t risk tightening up quickly.  Many of you may work in an office and therefore be desk bound for the majority of the day. Try getting up and performing some basic stretches every couple of hours or even go for a lunch time walk to stretch your legs. If time isn’t on your side, have you thought about substituting the commute home with some light cardio instead? Exercise such as light cardio can complement heavier training sessions and will help relieve soreness by stimulating blood flow and improving circulation to the muscles (5). While rest is also important, listen to your body and if you feel some light activity may do you good, don’t be afraid to get your training gear on again.

Sleep

Seems like a no brainer, right? Yet it’s amazing how so many people abuse the privilege of quality sleep. This is a time where your body is able to restore itself. At least seven hours is an ideal target to aim for. One of the best ways to take your sleep seriously is to establish a pre-bed routine. Set a curfew on what time the TV has to go off and avoid using technology too late. Instead, focus on ways to wind down, such as reading a book, stretching or even meditating.
The rate at which you recover will vastly depend on the type of training you’re doing and your fitness levels. However, implementing the above into your daily routine, no matter what stage you are at in your fitness journey, will certainly ensure you are limiting the risk of muscle fatigue and injury. These are fast and effective ways to keep the body fresh. So give them a try and ensure you are tackling every workout at 100%.

References
1. What Makes Muscles Grow? Bodybuilding.
2. 10 Ways to Speed Recovery After Exercise. Sports Medicine. 
3. Recover Faster and Stronger. Men’s Fitness.
4. Boost Your Recovery With A Contrast Shower. Stack.
5. 8 Ways to Maximize Your Post-Workout Recovery. Bodybuilding.

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