With the current fitness paradigm, people focus on a number of things to make their workouts more effective. But what about recovery? One thing most who workout forget is that after an intense exercise session, it’s important to recover and recuperate from your physical exertion. By following these tips for post-workout recovery at home or in the gym, you’ll be able to approach each day with renewed vigor!
The “post workout recovery supplements” are a way to help speed up the recovery process after a tough workout. The best time to take these supplements is right after you finish your workout.
You’ve spent hours creating the ideal fitness routine.
When you’re in the gym, you follow your workout plan to the letter.
You’re in #beastmode throughout every exercise. You push yourself to new heights. The training is uncomfortable, but it is a healthy type of discomfort. You’re doing an Odinic self-sacrifice.
When it’s all said and done, you take a photo of your sweat angel on the floor for Instagram to prove to the world that you paid your dues that day. “Pain is weakness leaving the body,” you caption it, or you cite Nietzsche about having a why and bearing any how, if you’re feeling philosophical that day.
Because you’re a disciplined person, you do it again the following day, and every other day that week and year (including Christmas and Thanksgiving).
Yes, you are serious about your training. You’re a lion, a wolf, or any other ferocious totem spirit animal you choose to be.
However, after a while, you begin to notice something amusing.
You’re not becoming any stronger, despite the intensity of your program and the fact that you’re battering yourself every exercise.
But, since you’re a guy who takes his training seriously, you begin tinkering with your routine. You alter rep schemes and include supplement lifts. If things are truly terrible, you could have to modify your whole program.
Then you go back to work with the same zeal because, once again, you take your training seriously.
But, much to your disappointment, you’re not growing any stronger.
How is it possible?
Easy. Because you didn’t realize that training doesn’t make you stronger.
When you consume a protein shake while watching an NCIS marathon on USA, you grow stronger.
When You Recover, You Get Stronger: Understanding the Stress, Recovery, and Adaptation Cycle
To comprehend why sitting on your keister and resting, rather than #beastmoding at the gym, makes you stronger, you must first comprehend the Stress-Adaptation-Recovery Cycle.
When the body is subjected to stress, it goes through a biological process to cope with it, recover from it, and then adapt and compensate so that it is better equipped to deal with it if it is exposed to it again.
When it comes to weightlifting, the tension comes from your training. And, according to the Stress-Adaptation-Recovery Cycle, you don’t become stronger when under stress; in fact, lifting weights causes your muscles to rip and break down due to the stress.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not implying that you shouldn’t work hard at the gym. The stress of training may not make you stronger in and of itself, but it is critical in kicking off the process that does. Stress is the catalyst for the Stress-Adaptation-Recovery Cycle to begin, and it must be severe enough to set the wheels in motion. That necessitates putting in long hours at the gym and accepting the hardship.
During the Adaptation and Recovery stages of the cycle, however, you only begin to grow stronger when the stress is gone. During this time, your body begins to heal muscles and tissues, making them stronger than before and better able to withstand another round of stress.
The bottom message is that you gain stronger when you recuperate rather than when you workout.
Why don’t more people take their recuperation as seriously as their training if you only become stronger when you’re recovering?
They’re probably doing it because they don’t know any better. The American fitness culture, in particular, places a premium on battering oneself day in and day out. We like the exhilarating sensation of using our minds. It’s a hair shirt for the present day. Recovery, on the other hand, seems to be dull, feeble, and uninteresting (not to mention it doesn’t look good on social media!).
Even though badass recuperation isn’t something you’ll see on a t-shirt, it’s equally as vital as your training. Here’s how to deal with it.
Allow your body to recover in its natural state.
Giving your body time to recuperate is the first step in treating your recuperation as seriously as you take your training. This implies you won’t be able to train every day of the week.
So, if you’re performing the beginner Starting Strength program, you’ll only lift three times a week.
I lift four times a week with my Barbell Logic Online Coaching instructor Matt Reynolds’ advanced Starting Strength program.
Other lifting plans may need you to exercise 5-6 days a week, but you will alternate between lower and upper body training on certain days. So every other day, half of your body gets to rest.
The amount of training vs. rest days you give yourself each week may vary depending on your personal training regimen, but the most important thing is to allow yourself some rest days.
A rest day does not have to be spent fully inactive. You could perform some exercise, but it should be mild and different from your regular workout. On my leisure days, for example, I’ll carry a ruck or practice MovNat exercises to stay flexible. You may go on a stroll, play ultimate Frisbee, or roughhouse with your children. It’s OK to include some pure vegging, such as watching NCIS with your father, since fathers like NCIS.
The main rule is to not push yourself too hard on your rest days so that your body’s recuperation process is hampered.
If you’re working out hard yet feeling exhausted, lacking energy and drive, and not seeing results in the gym, you’re definitely breaking this rule and need to slow down.
Food and sleep are the two most important aspects of recovery.
Aside from taking it easy now and again, there are two things you should prioritize: food and sleep.
Food. Your body needs a lot of nutrition to rebuild itself and adapt to the stress of exercise. As a result, you must consume a lot of excellent food.
“Are you meeting your macro goals?” Matt often asks when I’ve reached a plateau in my training. (Macro objectives are the percentages of your daily calorie consumption that come from carbohydrates, fat, and protein.) If I’m not, he chastises me and tells me I need to work more. The plateau is suddenly shattered once I start cooperating. If I’m achieving my macros but still don’t seem to be making progress, he’ll increase my calories since my body needs more food to recuperate. That usually works nine times out of 10.
I’d be willing to bet that most men’s training stalls because they aren’t consuming enough nourishment. Why is that? They’re attempting to become shredded and lean. But, as we’ve already said, you can’t grow large and powerful while also being shredded and skinny. You must eat if you want to get stronger. Period.
Because it’s simple to apply and keep to, I propose the If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) diet. For basic advice on how much protein, carbohydrates, and fat you should consume each day, see this page. If you’re seeking to gain weight, this is the guide for you. Download MyFitnessPal and monitor everything you eat after you’ve set your macros.
Make sure you’re eating enough protein every day: at least one gram per pound of bodyweight.
Train as though you’re a champion. Eat as though you’re a champion.
Sleep. While scientists are still unsure why we sleep in the first place, we do know that it is critical for our recuperation after activity.
Our pituitary gland produces a pulse of human growth hormone when we enter a deep sleep state to aid tissue repair and growth. Testosterone levels rise during REM sleep, which helps with tissue repair and development. Essentially, we wash our bodies in completely legal and perfectly natural performance-enhancing “drugs” while we sleep.
However, if you don’t get enough good sleep, you’ll be losing out on it, and your recuperation will suffer as a result, as would your training.
If I’m eating well but my training suffers, it’s typically because I’m not getting enough sleep. I break past plateaus as soon as I make sleep a priority.
I suggest reading this advice to help you sleep better. However, there isn’t much to it. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep. Late in the day, avoid coffee. Before going to bed, stay away from screens. In a dark, cold room, sleep.
The actual issue with sleep is that life gets in the way from time to time. You and your wife just brought a delightful, colicky bundle of joy into your lives. You’re going to Walgreens at 2 a.m. because your child is ill in the middle of the night. There’s really much you can do about these unforeseen sleep disruptors except attempt to practice excellent sleep hygiene on all of the nights when everything goes “perfect.”
But sometimes we stay up late for no apparent reason – we get sucked into a program or spend more time on the internet than we intended. Or we put off an assignment until it becomes impossible to finish without pulling an all-nighter. In these circumstances, it’s just a question of prioritizing your sleep and appreciating its importance to your overall health.
Make sleeping a priority, and both your brain and your body will reward you.
Is There Anything Else That Helps with Recovery?
While diet and sleep are the most well-established and effective techniques for promoting exercise recovery, there are now a growing number of alternatives and approaches available. While most Americans still see exercise without appropriate recuperation as a fetish, a new fitness industry has sprung up to cater to those who are beginning to value rest as much as training.
There are spas specialized to athletes that provide therapies that claim to “speed up” recuperation. These establishments provide deep tissue massages, dry saunas, and cryospas, to name a few offerings.
Do they, on the other hand, help you recover?
Austin Baraki and Jordan Feigenbaum, both Starting Strength instructors and medical physicians, looked into the study and discovered that massages and cryospas have little to no value when it comes to recuperation after training.
They admit that this stuff is enjoyable (after all, who doesn’t like a nice massage?) adding that the nice sensation is likely to have some psychological benefits in terms of lowering cortisol levels in your system, which may aid recuperation. It might also be a placebo effect. Should you, however, invest a lot of time and money on this? No.
Focus on eating nutritious foods and getting adequate sleep to get the most bang for your dollars. After you’ve taken care of those two things, go ahead and have a massage or relax in the cryospa every now and then because you like the sensation.
Here are a few more “icing on the cake of recovery” ideas to consider if they seem right to you:
- Ice baths or cold showers
- Hot tub
- Baths with Epsom salts
- Floatation tank
- Rolling foam
Experiment with what appears to work for you and is within your budget and time constraints.
Take your recovery just as seriously as you do your workouts.
When you exercise, you do not get stronger. When you heal, you get stronger. So treat your time in bed and at the table as seriously as you do your time at the gym!
Listen to our podcast on how to get the most out of your workout recovery:
- Everything You Need to Know About Diet and Fat Loss (Podcast)
- Strength Training Is For Everyone, According To This Podcast
- The Top 10 Ways to Make Exercise a Lifelong Habit
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