Essential Recovery Checklist
Getting fitter, faster and stronger is about more than what happens when you're at the gym. Unless you dial in your recovery game, you'll always be at a disadvantage when it comes to making progress.
To get the most from your training, you need to make sure you're putting time and effort into your recovery. In between each workout, you should be taking care of your body - and doing everything you can to help it repair and refuel. Not only will this get you ready to attack your next WOD with everything you've got, but it will help prevent the symptoms of overtraining and burnout too.
There are plenty of weird and wonderful ways to improve your recovery, but we always recommend starting with the basics. With that in mind, here's our essential recovery checklist:
1. Rest Days
When you find a hobby that you love, it's hard to drag yourself away from it for a day. We've been there, so we get that. But rest days are one of the most fundamental aspects of recovery.
When you train every single day, you're not allowing your body adequate time to repair in between workouts. When your muscles repair the damage you've done during a WOD, they get strong.
Think about that for a second. If you don't allow your body to repair, you're not allowing yourself to get stronger!
There's no "magic number" when it comes to rest. Some people need more than others, and some people respond better to "active recovery" than all-out rest days. Experiment, and find a routine that works well for you.
To help you think about this some more, read this article: 6 Signs It's Time for a Rest Day.
We all know about the importance of sleep, but it's one of the most neglected recovery essentials.
When your body enters a deep sleep, it starts to ramp up production of hormones responsible for muscle repair. Reducing the duration or quality of sleep, therefore, will negatively impact your body's ability to recover and get stronger.
In addition to the restorative nature of sleep, getting enough shut eye will help keep you mentally strong, and increase energy levels throughout the day.
To find out more about how to improve sleep for faster recovery, check out this post.
The importance of good nutrition for recovery is well documented. Intense workouts use up a lot of your body's resources, which you need to replenish with the right nutrients.
You should aim to eat something as soon as possible following a workout, to kickstart your recovery. Most people opt for a protein shake, which is an easy way to get this important macronutrient into your system fast. To make this even more effective, try adding some post-workout carbohydrates to replenish glycogen levels.
Remember to stay hydrated, too! Coconut water is a great way to restore your body's optimal levels of electrolytes after a tough workout.
Good nutrition isn't just about the food you eat immediately post-WOD, though. Nutrition in between workouts is key too. When you eat plenty of healthy, balanced meals, you're giving your body exactly what it needs to repair and recharge, ready for your next session.
Supplements are a great way to enhance your diet and improve recovery. As we've already mentioned, protein shakes are a fast and accessible way to get some nutrients into your body as soon as the WOD ends, but this only scratches the surface.
Here are a few supplements thought to contribute to recovery:
- Collagen - repairs tendons, ligaments and cartilage. Find it in PurePharma's PR3.
- Creatine - enhances muscle growth. Find it in Xendurance Creatine-JB.
- Turmeric - reduce inflammation. Find it in Vivo Life Perform.
- Magnesium - rebuild muscle following damage during exercise. Find it in PurePharma M3.
If you want to learn more about supplements and their role in recovery, take a look at our Guide to Fitness Supplements.
5. Self-Myofascial Release
One of the best investments you can make for recovery is a foam roller. They're not expensive to buy, but will provide you with hours of recovery fun. And by fun, we mean dark, painful times!
In a nutshell, self-myofascial release is like giving yourself a sports massage, at home (or in the gym!), without the price tag. This can help you increase blood flow to the muscles, to speed up recovery. Although it can be uncomfortable to roll the muscles, it can relax the muscle tissue to reduce DOMS, making it a worthwhile way to spend 10 minutes!
If you've never used a foam roller before, we recommend checking out a few tutorials on YouTube first - there are plenty of them!
For those harder to reach areas, or when you need a bit more control (hello, stubborn calves!) - you can also use a ball to get the same results.
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