What do I need to do to recover from a workout ?
Updated: Jul 1, 2020
When it comes to post workout recovery, there's many theories about what works best and it has been very challenging for researchers to truly establish what works.
So without going into to various theories which may be 'questionable', we've identified the following, sound approaches, to making sure you can recover quickly, safely and effectively from your workouts.
1. REST YOUR MUSCLES
If you're not giving your muscles enough downtime, you could end up slowing down your progress, or worse, as it's far more important than you may realize. If you get right back into working out too soon, it interrupts the natural rebuilding process of your body and can prevent you from ultimately reaching your fitness goals.
So here's a tip, take a day off
Just give your muscles a rest so they can regroup and you can build on them again. If you find your getting antsy with your day off then do something else to occupy yourself but just give your muscles a break.
Oh yeah, and forget the glory of saying you go to the gym every single day as there's genuinely no glory in that.
Because if you think about, and I'm certain you've heard this before, the whole process of building muscle is a process of literally tearing down and building up.
Well, after the 'tearing down' phase what do you think you need to do? Rest those muscles is the answer so that way they can regenerate for the next time. The scientific term is called 'hypertrophy' whereby you create micro-tears in the muscles that are then trained to adapt and create new muscle growth the next time you workout.
2. RE-HYDRATE YOUR BODY
The importance of re-hydrating your body with water cannot be overstated. It is essential for regulating your body temperature, transporting nutrients, lubricating your joints and basically restoring the water balance in your body.
As your muscles are roughly 75% water it is essential for post workout recovery. If you're not hydrated, your body can't perform, or recover, at its highest level... it's that simple.
Anyway, here's a bit more about the benefits: Fatigue Reduction
Fatigue is one of the most common indicators of dehydration. When you’re dehydrated, your blood volume is decreased which means that the heart has to work harder to pump the blood to all of the parts of the body that need its vital oxygen and nutrients. This fatigue not only hinders post workout recovery but feeling fatigued and lethargic reduces motivation for your next workout session.
Exercise causes muscles to become stronger by first breaking them down and then rebuilding them by protein synthesis. This synthesis however, requires that muscles are well hydrated. If you are dehydrated following a workout, the protein synthesis that rebuilds muscles will be slowed and subsequently will delay your recovery from the workout.
Heart Rate Recovery
In a recent study of hydration, and the role it plays in athletic performance, it was established that hydration had a significant impact on post workout recovery. The study evaluated individuals who performed a 90 minute run on a treadmill under one of two conditions:
- Group A - They they drank a sports drink during and after the workout
- Group B - They did not hydrate at all
In summary, their findings were that individuals in Group A showed significantly faster heart rate recovery after their workout, indicating that their bodies more quickly recovered from the stress of the workout.
After a mega workout, eating enough to replenish glycogen stores and refuel your body is seriously important to recovery. Adequate water is essential to the digestion of food and you must hydrate to make sure this happens.
To break down food you need saliva which is composed primarily of water, and is crucial to digest and absorb all of the nutrients you are eating. Rehydrating properly after a workout fundamentally aids in the efficiency of the digestive process.
Rehydration after exercise clearly has a large impact on recovery. If you live in a warm climate, or it’s during the summer months, it is essential to develop a post workout hydration protocol that replenishes the liquids, electrolytes and sodium lost during exercise.
Focusing on hydration will give you the extra boost you need to recover from a hard workout and get the most out of future workout sessions!
3. STRETCH YOUR MUSCLES
Stretching allows the body to cool down and help the heart beat to return to normal levels, and the best time to stretch is when the muscles are warm and pliable. Proper blood circulation to the muscles is once again resumed with stretching and will assist in the flushing away of built up lactic acid.
As muscle fatigue and soreness occur due to the lactic acid it is essential to stretch for facilitating faster muscle recovery.
There are three basic types of stretching your muscles:
This type of stretching is what most people think of when they mention stretching. It involves a gradual, increasing range of muscle extension to a final position that you hold for between 10 and 30 seconds for between 2 and 4 repetitions.
Whether it's putting your hands over your head to stretch core muscles and work out those kinks in your back, or simply touching your toes for your hamstrings and lower back, everyone has done this at some point.
Think of this technique as a mirror image of the workout routines you just did, just without heavy resistance. Unlike static stretching, a position is not held for any length of time necessarily as this is more like callisthenics.
Examples include standing in position and repeatedly raising your knees to waist height, kicking out like some kind of border guard on patrol and throwing out your arms to either side mimicking dumbbell flys.
- Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF)
This is where your muscle is passively stretched, then the muscle is contracted, then stretched even further. This technique works by increasing the length of the muscle and increasing neuromuscular efficiency. It is often performed with a training partner because of the dual movement of stretching and contraction for resistance both ways.
A typical example is when you lie on your back, extend your leg up and your workout buddy holds your ankle to help you extend and then provide resistance on the return movement. The muscle group is then allowed 30 seconds to recover and the process is repeated 2 – 4 times.
4. EAT PROTEIN
Taking protein in the first 30 minutes or so after a workout helps the body to begin quickly healing the micro-tears (remember that term 'hypertrophy'?) in the muscles and thus make them stronger over time. Too little protein after a workout can lead to muscle soreness and fatigue, rather than increased strength and stamina so we definitely need to eat the right things after a workout.
Fundamentally, foods rich in proteins are the ideal food to eat after working out as they repair damage caused to muscle fibers. This is through the amino acids found in protein which enter the muscles and begin to aid in rebuilding.
The best foods for “feeding” our muscles are proteins and specifically animal proteins such as eggs and fish which contain all the essential amino acids in in their proper ratio. Another great source and easy approach is whey protein like our ASD Performance Fusion Protein Powder. Available in four great flavours, this is an especially tasty and handy way to gain those essential amino acids in protein to aid in muscle recovery.
In summary you really need to rest your muscles, make sure you drink plenty, stretch those muscles and eat the right food to increase your protein intake. Executed in combination, these four approaches to post workout recovery will ultimately keep you healthy, fit and able to keep on working out and building your muscles!