My Top 5 Recovery Methods
After a hard fought rugby game for Chichester on Saturday, I find myself thinking about how best I can speed up the recovery process (or at least not slow it down); so that Monday I feel good enough to get back in the gym and get back to my personal training.I’m sure many of you find yourselves in similar situations, whether it be from a sporting match, a tough training session, or a one off event (marathons, tough-mudder type events). Whilst there are many tools out there that help, your focus should always be on the things that make the biggest difference.
As a personal trainer this is often times the first priority when looking into a client’s recovery. Many times we can overlook the benefits of drinking enough water during the day. This should be priority number 1 for anyone who takes their training seriously and wants to progress. Being properly hydrated throughout the day enables you to concentrate and therefore perform better, and being dehydrated is a surefire way to impede your ability to train hard. After a hard training session where you may have been sweating, water becomes even more important: recovery will be slowed down significantly if you don’t top it all back up!
Takeaway Tip: takes notes throughout the week of how much water you are consuming – most people can make an honest appraisal if it appears excessively low (<2 litres). Make sure you aren’t counting calorie-rich beverages like coffee, fizzy drinks and alcohol. Add in 500ml-1L per day and see how you feel after a week (I don’t recommend suddenly downing 5L of water a day – uncomfortable).
Don’t overlook the power of the calorie! Consuming 1,500 calories a day works if that’s all you need to maintain weight doing nothing, but add in 60 minutes of intense activity and you are going to want to top that up. Think of calories as fuel for your car – if you drive too far and don’t put enough petrol into your car, you’ll soon be running on fumes (and then not running at all). It’s a simple formula of matching up supply with demand.
Takeaway Tip: Use a calorie calculator (find plenty on your smartphone) to track your calories for a week. Try to find that sweet spot where you aren’t losing or gaining weight. When you add in regular exercise, add in a few hundred calories. Re-measure to make sure you aren’t over or under eating, adjust as needs be. Try to aim for nutrient dense food; plenty of protein and vegetables, but don’t be afraid of having that chocolate bar every now and again! Chichester-based Montezuma’s is my go to.
I know what you’re thinking, there’s not much logic in trying to recover from exercise by performing, well, more exercise! Usually I’d agree, but this can be a good idea if used sparingly and at the right times. The day after a tough sporting competition or an intense training day – performing some light exercise can help to promote blood flow directly to sore muscles. This helps to bring key nutrients in and take waste products away; the key is to create no fatigue from this.
Takeaway Tip: Try performing 20-30 minutes of light exercise; walking/cycling/yoga/dynamic stretching after a strenuous day. Be sure to get plenty of water and good food on board too!
4) Switching Off
Contradictory to the previous recommendation – sometimes doing absolutely nothing is the best plan of action. If you are someone who finds themselves constantly under a feeling of stress (be it work/relationships/travel/training), then learning to “switch off” is going to be a huge help. Getting in a 6am gym session, racing to work through rush hour, spending 8 hours worrying at work are all stressful events for the body to process; learn how to relax when you get the opportunity to.
Takeaway Tip: Try to spend 5-10 minutes per day (or as near to that as possible), taking deep relaxing breaths in a position that is comfortable (preferably not standing or folded over at your desk). Doing this in front of the TV is less effective.
If you aren’t getting a good night’s rest every night, then you are missing out on the biggest performance enhancer out there! Muscles grow outside of the gym, so if you are struggling to recover session to session, then have a look at how well you are sleeping. Are you waking constantly? Having difficulty getting to sleep in the first place? Wake up shattered every morning? They are all good indicators your sleep is sub-par.
Takeaway Tip: Try to get 8 hours in a cool, dark room every night. Avoid having screens (TV/phone/tablets) in the bedroom immediately before bed.
Are you guilty of overlooking these principles? Find yourself tired as you progress through your training week? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with Davies Training to learn how best you can plan your training to maximise recovery and therefore your potential! Chichester based personal training tailored to all experience levels.