If you’re looking to make some serious gains in your training routine, what you do outside of the gym can be just as important, if not more important, than your actual workout.
Giving your body the proper rest and recovery it needs is crucial for training effectively, building muscle, and reducing your risk of injury.
Check out these five easy recovery tips that will take your workouts to the next level!
#1) Stay Hydrated
Drinking your daily recommended amount of water is the #1 key to keeping your body healthy and hydrated.
When you workout, your body perspires in order to regulate its internal body temperature. To fully recover from any type of physical activity, it’s imperative that you replenish your body's water supply and replace the water you sweat out during your workout.
Also, the more muscle mass you’d like to gain, the more water you need to drink. Water helps form the structures of protein and glycogen in the body and transport nutrients to your cells. When you’re dehydrated, the nerves that control your muscles can't function properly, which reduces muscle strength and impairs growth.
If you’re focused on muscle tone and mass, make sure you’re drinking at least 10-12 cups of water per day - and even more on days you’re working out.
#2) Refuel with Protein
As we’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, protein is essential for providing your body with the tools it needs to generate energy, gain muscle, and regulate body weight.
After the gym, your body goes to work on restoring the glycogen and muscle proteins that were depleted during your workout.
Eating a mix of healthy carbs and proteins within 60 minutes of completing your workout can help your body speed up this process and stimulate muscle growth. Stick with nutrient-rich foods like eggs, whole grains, yogurt, chicken, fish or whey protein powders.
#3) Stretch It Out
There’s no way around it, stretching is critical for recovering after a workout. Keeping your body loose and mobile, especially after a tough training session, helps bring blood flow back to stimulated muscle areas and release lactic acid build up. Post-workout stretching or massage stimulation helps to improve your range of motion, build mobility, and ultimately reduce your risk of injury.
If you’re looking for a deeper stretch, try using a tool that will help you target deeper areas of the body. Foam rollers, lacrosse or tennis balls, resistance bands, or electric massage guns can be hugely beneficial for everyone from the average gym-goer to the professional athlete.
Establishing a daily stretching routine can also help you build the habit of relaxing your body, even on days you may not have exercised. Set aside 15 minutes at the end of each day to stretch your muscles before going to bed.
#4) Get Enough ZZZ’s
You guessed it: sleep also plays a huge role in recovery.
If you’ve ever gone to the gym after a poor night’s sleep, you’ve probably experienced how difficult it is to maintain adequate energy and proper form. Not only are sleep-deprived training sessions usually less effective, they can also be potentially dangerous and lead to injuries.
When you sleep, your body goes to work on recovering, repairing and rebuilding the muscles that you used during the day. It also produces natural growth hormone that's critical for athletic recovery. Without enough high-quality sleep, your body cannot fully recover from the physical strain it goes through on a daily basis.
If you want to build on the gains you're making at the gym, make sure you’re getting at least 8 hours of good quality sleep every night.
#5) Take A Break
If you’re training for a competition, building muscle mass, or just trying to maintain an active lifestyle, taking rest days may feel counterintuitive. But giving yourself proper recovery time between workouts is actually just as important as the workouts themselves.
Taking breaks from physical activity gives your body a chance to rest, recover and repair. In fact, recovery actually stimulates muscle growth. When you train a specific muscle group, you end up making tiny tears to the muscle tissue. When your body is in recovery, it generates cells that help these tissues heal and grow, thus making them stronger the next time you step into the gym.
Incorporating recovery days into your workout schedule can also prevent overtraining and fatigue that could potentially lead to injury. On recovery days, make sure you’re drinking plenty of water, stretching, and fueling your body with the healthy nutrients it needs to make your next workout your best yet!