Recover....so you can go again
Congratulations, you’ve done the hard work now!
Whether it was a run, a resistance session, an online yoga class or a really long - socially distanced with your mate - daily outing for exercise – walk, you've completed your session.
So is that how you progress with fitness, or endurance, or muscle growth, or even fat loss?
Well….it’s a large part of it. Your workout, whatever form it takes, is how you apply the stimulus to your body to instigate any changes;
If you are lifting weights, your workout is how you increase your muscle size. If you’re a runner, your runs are how you increase cardiovascular health and endurance. Each yoga class increases your flexibility and each day you spend being active helps to contribute to creating a calorie deficit if your aim is to lower your body fat.
However. The biggest piece of the puzzle in progression, is how you approach and commit to, recovery. Recovery has several components, and giving some attention to each of them will help your body recover properly in readiness for your next session.
During exercise, you will lose water, the obvious sign of this, is if you are sweating. Even if you don’t sweat, you will be losing water through mild perspiration and increased breathing rate.
Our bodies are largely composed of water, so staying hydrated during the day, before, during and after exercise is essential! Staying hydrated helps with speeding up muscle repair, reducing fatigue and heart rate recovery, to name just a few benefits. Staying hydrated will also help during exercise, losing as little as 2% of your bodyweight through dehydration can negatively impact performance.
The guidelines for water intake for adults are; a minimum of 2 litres per day, more if you are in a hot environment or are active during the day. For those taking part in any exercise, you will need more than this, the suggested intake is 200 – 250ml for every 15 minutes of exercise. If you are running, so not able to drink during exercise, making sure you are hydrated before and after exercise is even more important.
It’s not just for gains. Protein helps with muscle repair by supplying the muscles you’ve just hammered with the necessary amino acids they need to repair themselves and recover effectively. Side effects of a hard workout include Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness [DOMS], the effects of which can be lessened with proper recovery.
The need to get some protein after you exercise is not as urgent as previously thought, but the sooner the better.
The time period in which your body will utilise protein to repair the muscles used in exercise is known as the ‘anabolic window’. Old school gym bro’s will tell you to chug a protein shake as soon as you put the weights down. Science has confirmed your anabolic window is at its optimum 30 – 120 minutes after exercise and you can see a positive response for up to 24 hours after exercise. If you are exercising again the next day though, try to get the protein into your system sooner rather than later.
It is recommended to have 20-40g of protein after exercise depending on goals and the intensity of the exercise.
A protein shake is a convenient way to take in protein after a workout or exercise, our whey protein, when made with 200ml of skimmed milk comes in at 32g of protein and only 217 calories!
Rest after exercise comes in different forms, the most obvious of which, is sleep! Sleep, and specifically deep sleep helps with recovery as this is when growth hormones are released, these help with muscle growth and repair as well as metabolising fat. Aim for at least 7 hours a night, more if you are training intensely. There is a lot of evidence to suggest ZMA supplements help with improving quality of sleep.
Rest in the sense of taking time off from activity is important too, this is normally planned into schedules and classed as a ‘rest day’ where no intense exercise takes place. Some very light exercise such as a walk or light yoga class may help to alleviate soreness by maintaining good blood flow, this is known as an active rest day.
Stretching after any kind of workout is highly advised, and is normally the element of recovery that is first to be dismissed!
I know when you’ve finished your session, you just want to go grab a shower and chill out……but take a few minutes. Stretch out the muscles you have just worked.
Stretching will help improve blood flow to the area concerned as well as maintaining and improving flexibility and mobility, which means subsequent sessions shouldn’t cause as much soreness as they used to.
If the recovery principles above were a cake, these would be the cherry on top!
Carbohydrates – Not as important as protein when it comes to post-workout nutrition, unless you are working the same muscle group within 24 hours of your workout. If this is the case you should have some complex carbs either with your post workout shake or as part of the first meal after your session. This will help replace muscle glycogen which is depleted during exercise. You should still have some carbs if you are not working the same muscle group again soon, but as far as recovery goes, protein is more important.
Joint care –The health of your ligaments, tendons, and connective tissue is important to your recovery; they all need to be able to recover after exercise, the same way as your muscles do, to reduce soreness and potential injury. Our Total Joint Support tablets are a great source of active ingredients that will help maintain the health of your joints.
L Glutamine – Although it is the most abundant amino acid found in the body, under stresses such as intense exercise, you may not have enough to fulfil the body’s demands. Levels have been found to be significantly lower while pregnant or lactating. L Glutamine can help with increasing fluid and electrolyte uptake, which increases hydration levels. Our L-Glutamine is an ideal addition to your post workout shake and can help after intense sessions.
There you have it; your whistle-stop guide to recovery. Remember to give your recovery as much attention as your exercise for less soreness, increased performance and more energy!