When people first start an exercise program the most overlooked aspect tends to be recovery. This plays a huge factor in your results, which ultimately helps keep you motivated and on track.
To explain just how important recovery is I’ll tell you a story. On my second deployment I had a workout partner. We set up a team competition with two other guys that was to take place at the end of the deployment. It consisted of a 1.5 mile run, 2k row on the concept2 rower, max strict pull ups, dead lift, bench press, and back squat. Me and my partner literally did 95% of our training together. The only real difference was my devotion to the recovery process and his lack of devotion to recovery. Don’t get me wrong about his work ethic, he always crushed his workouts to the best of his ability, but over time the difference between the two of us became clear. By the end of it the competition was based on points. The more points the better and the best combined total for each pair wins. I ended up scoring 18 and my partner scored 3.
Now I’ll go into three major factors in recovery.
I recommend taking a protein shake 30-60 minutes before working out or eating a meal 90 minutes before a workout. You want to have an adequate energy supply to get the right amount of intensity. An absolute must is getting something in your system after you exercise. Your body is starting the adaptation process and without getting the proper nutrients your workout was completely worthless. When it comes to a post workout shake you get what you pay for. The more expensive recovery shakes tend to digest much faster helping you recover faster.
The next important phase of recovery is sleep.
The following information is from ninds.nih.gov
“Deep sleep coincides with the release of growth hormone in children and young adults. Many of the body’s cells also show increased production and reduced breakdown of proteins during deep sleep. Since proteins are the building blocks needed for cell growth and for repair of damage from factors like stress and ultraviolet rays, deep sleep may truly be “beauty sleep.” Activity in parts of the brain that control emotions, decision-making processes, and social interactions is drastically reduced during deep sleep, suggesting that this type of sleep may help people maintain optimal emotional and social functioning while they are awake. A study in rats also showed that certain nerve-signaling patterns which the rats generated during the day were repeated during deep sleep. This pattern repetition may help encode memories and improve learning.”
I think they explained it better than I ever could. To add to that, since I’ve put more emphasis on sleeping better I’ve made massive improvements on all my max lifts and metabolic conditioning workouts. I’ve felt generally better all around and had a more consistent good mood.
Lastly, I’ll cover massage therapy or some people call it trigger point.
There is a lot of technical jargon out there about myofacial release and foam rolling/trigger pointing. Here I’ll keep it super simple. By rolling out and massaging your muscles you can reduce soreness, increase blood flow, and speed up recovery. It also helps to prevent injury. This is the perfect thing to do on the living room floor while you watch TV. It may be painful, and if it is that means your muscles are unhealthy so the more you treat yourself the less painful it becomes. Eventually, you’ll actually look forward to it.
So there you have three major components to recovery. I hope you make a solid effort to each one of them because the benefits are tremendous.