As we have discussed in previous posts, recovery is just as important as training. During training we give our bodies stimulus it needs to grow and strengthen itself. During recovery is when it happens. But there is some misconception about recovery. Taking a day off from training because work was stressful and you are tired that day is NOT recovering. We must optimize the way we recover.

We naturally recover when we sleep and throughout the day, but that can not be enough. Leading a stressful life, going through some tough time and simple lack of relaxation can interfere with how we recover. We don’t want training to be an “add-on” to that stress list. So if you can recover well (not only from training, but by recovering well you will also feel better from other external stress) we are able to perform better and take on more challenges. If you really want to get the most out of your day off, here is how you can optimize your recovery:

  • SLEEP

A key component of recovery, sleep is always overlooked. We live in a society that rewards “hard work”. But the type of hard work that makes people choose taking work home, working overtime and staying up late. It is easy to under perform in your sleep due to all other “tasks” you must do. But it is a big mistake.

We work harder, sharper and smarter after a good night of sleep. We are in a better mood and happier. Our recovery is better, so we are ready to take on new challenges. Remember, it’s not just quantity of sleep, but also, quality of sleep.

  • POST WORKOUT MEAL

Believe it or not, but recovering from a workout starts as soon as you are done with it. So having the right fuel in you is very important. Muscles need primarily two things to recover. Carbs and protein. The latter is used to rebuild and create new muscle fibers and the former is used for resupply of used energy and for energy to rebuild the muscle.

Much is talked about the “post-workout window”, when you should be getting the macros we talked about. But studies have been conflicted about it. As long as you get them before you sleep, when most of the recovery happens, you should be good.

  • FOAM ROLL¬† AND STRETCH

We have already touched on the benefits of foam rolling on a previous blog post, but, overall, self-myofascial release can reduce soreness and promote blood flow when done right after a workout, or on days off. Stretching can do the same, promoting blood flow and acting as active recovery. Both of those can also improve range of motion, so it is not only a recovery tool but it can be a tool for performance improvement.

You can easily optimize your recovery by spending a few minutes stretching and foam rolling. Not only will it feel good, after tough training sessions, but it will also help you come back stronger.

  • COLD

Athletes, and most people in general, live in a state of inflammation. It can be due to stress, bad nutrition or exercise. Even though inflammation is necessary in our bodies, for the most part it causes problems. Aches, swollen areas and pains can be attributed to inflammation so it’s important to fight it.

We know Omega-3 helps lower inflammation, but another important thing you can do is to get cold. Ice packs and cryotherapy are some good options. The most efficient and less annoying way of doing it, though, is to take a cold shower. There are many studies that have supported the idea that cold showers not only fight inflammation, but it boosts immune system and increases our energy levels.

  • RE-HYDRATE

For starters, most people drink less water than they should on an average day. That becomes a bigger problem when you add training to that schedule. Not only we use and lose water, we also use minerals and electrolytes. They are vital for proper function of the body, especially during and after training.

Before you go buy some sugary sports drink, consider the better options. Like coconut water. It provides plenty of electrolytes and it re-hydrates, arguably, better than water. The sugar, or “energy”, you can get from sports drinks can come from whole food in an after workout meal instead.

  • EATING ON DAYS OFF

While most people try to cut back food on days they do not work out, this can have an adverse effect on the body. It’s okay to cut some of the carbs you would normally eat. But it is important to try to keep your fat and protein intake high as well. If possible, keep the calorie count from your training days.

As mentioned above, it is on recovery days the body reconstructs itself. For that it needs building blocks. If you don’t properly fuel your body it won’t recover itself when it should be. Optimize your recovery by eating well on days you don’t train.

  • BREATHING

Another topic we have covered previously, breathing is perhaps the most overlooked recovery activity. Probably because we take it for granted and because most of the time we do it automatically. But specifically due to this unconscious way of breathing, we often do it improperly.

Practicing your breathing during your off days can prove to be more than a recovery activity. It can help you on different aspects of your health. So make sure you take deep, controlled breaths, in and out of your nose. Expand your belly and fully let go, with no pauses. If you want there are breathing methods you can try as well, like the Wim Hof for example. It can have more positive effects on your body than you expect!

 

To optimize your recovery is to make sure you get the gains you work for in the gym. There are many ways of doing that and the ones above are a good starting point. Each person is very unique and there might be many extra aspects you can optimize. If you need some guidance and help getting started, let one of your Celebration CrossFit coaches know and we will be happy to help you!

 

by Coach Matt

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