Recovery 101

By John Krueger (About the Author)

We all know that feeling you get after a killer workout, whether it’s the morning after or two days later. The one where you roll out of a bed and it feels like you cannot move because you’re so sore. For some of you DOMS (Delayed onset muscle soreness) is very satisfying because it is your personal way of knowing you did something right in the gym. For others it’s discouraging and can even cause you to quit entirely. In this article we will cover multiple tips and things to do to help with your recovery from workouts.

First things first, never skip or short change your warm up! You need to give your body a chance to prepare for exercise. Dynamic stretching requires you to move as you stretch, activating your muscles, and improving range of motion for your workout. Another simple way to warm up is by adding warm up sets to your workouts. Warm up sets allow your body to adjust mentally and physically for your oncoming workout. They also increase blood flow and help your joints go through a full range of motion. If you just walk into the gym, lay down on a bench and attempt to jump right into working sets without warming up, chances are you will hurt yourself.

The next important step to recovery is your diet because the way you eat affects all aspects of your gym progress. It is important to fuel your body properly so it is able to heal itself after you break it down in the gym. The first step is by taking in enough protein throughout the day, as well as immediately after your workout. The simplest way to get protein in post workout would be through a shake made with protein powder supplement. A post workout shake can not only help jump start the repair process but also lead to more muscle and strength gains because protein helps to initiate the repair and rebuilding processes of your muscle tissue. I have written previously on the importance of carbs in your diet, but they also play a role in your recovery. Carbs are your body’s main source of fuel, and during exercise your energy stores are depleted (how much so depends on the length and intensity of your workout). During post-workout your body absorbs nutrients like a sponge, so it is important to replenish your energy sources with carbs. Another way to add to your diet and help with recovery is supplements. Things like BCAA’s (branch chain amino acids) and fish oils are easy to find supplements to add. Fish oils can help decrease both pain and swelling while increasing range of motion following intense exercise. BCAA’s, or amino acids, are the building blocks of protein and have been shown to have benefit primarily for recovery post-workout from muscle damage or fatigue.

Last but not least, sleep. It amazes me how many people don’t get adequate sleep at night. Not only is it important for relaxing, but it is also the time where your body repairs itself. Adding in an extra hour or two at night can result in more muscle gain, decreased soreness, lower stress levels, and increased metabolism.