Most of us either love working out, really hate working out and only do it for the results, or have attempted working out a few times but couldn't walk or move for 5 days after and are scared to try again because of that horrible recovery process. Whatever your case may be, there is one thing that stands true - faster recovery means more enjoyable results. If you didn't know, i just got my NASM personal training certification, and if there is one thing that interested me greatly, was reducing recovery time. As a fitness instructor, quick recovery is vital and key to performing every class. Here are key, scientifically-proven steps i swear by for reduced recovery time.
1. FOAM ROLLING (SMR - Self Myofascial Release): In case you didn't know, foam rolling is a real thing, and it's taking the fitness world by storm. So the next time you think about laughing at the guy at the gym doing a crybaby on a foam log, walk to the closest mirror and laugh at yourself, buddy. Cause he'll be doing squats all over the free-weight section the whole week while you struggle to sit on the toilet. So let's talk technique: most people roll over their calves five times and call it a day. That actually is the incorrect way to foam roll and does nothing for your body. The correct technique is rolling the muscle over the foam roller until you feel the most tender spot. Once you feel that tender, sore spot, hold on to that position for 30 - 90 seconds. Once you feel the tension reduce, then you can move on to the next spot. This technique allows your muscles to relax, stretch, unknot and realign. When should you foam roll? Right before your stretching exercises and after your workout if you have time.
2. MOVE BEFORE YOU WORK: Mobility exercises prep your body for the workout that's to come. They help to warm up your joints, and include both active and functional flexibility techniques. Whether it's an active hip flexor stretch or side lunge, these light movements that mimic the workout to come can be key not only in increasing flexibility, but in preventing injury during the "training" portion of your regimen. As you get older, these exercises will be key in maintaining functional movement through the aging process, especially if you are working out regularly. For some amazing and free tips, i would check out my favorite IG pages @af_move and @myorenew.
3. WATCH WHAT YOU CONSUME: First off, hydration is a key element of performance. Even a slightly dehydrated body will just not perform as well as one that is well hydrated, studies have shown. Although water does not necessarily increase recovery, it can help reduce many feelings of nausea, fatigue and coordination many feel after an intense workout. If you are an endurance athlete, protein replenishment is not something as necessarily crucial for recovery as resistance athletes. As a matter of fact, endurance athletes should focus on replenishing glycogen stores through carbohydrates, but this is generally recommended through timing of a regular, balanced diet rather than the addition of heavy carb-loading (unless you are an ultra-endurance athlete). For strength athletes, studies have shown that consuming protein pre- or post- workout are key for muscle recovery and growth through promotion of muscle synthesis. Protein should be consumed either 60 minutes before training, or 30--45 minutes after (consuming it before actually demonstrates better results). Whey protein has been proven to demonstrate more immediate synthesis than casein and is therefore more recommended for immediate recovery. I personally do love me some BCAA's. If you are a Spanish speaker, i would definitely follow @Nutricion.Salud.Arg for general advice about balanced nutrition.
4. SLEEP... A LOT: I am sleep's #1 advocate. Not only does it give your body time to recover before your next workout, it helps to establish an overall balance, reduce stress, and improve performance. Lack of sleep increases cortisol levels in the body which threaten health, fitness and day to day performance. Get your sleep - it's one of the main ways you can tell your body that you love it.