Recovery is just as important as the work in the weight room. When you expend your body in the gym, your muscles are stretching, breaking down, and you're using energy stores throughout your body. AFTER your workout, it's important that you allow time for your muscles to replenish and recover.
Oftentimes, we tend to neglect this portion of our fitness, but it is important that it's a part of EVERY single workout. Here are some of the most common mistakes we see when it comes to optimal recovery!
NOT STRETCHING, POST-WORKOUT
Stretch and cool down after EVERY SINGLE WORKOUT, don't just walk out the door.
When you skip a post-workout stretch, you're not putting your muscles in the best possible position to recover from the workout. Your post-workout recovery should mainly consist of static stretching and even some breathing exercises to help alleviate soreness, improve your mobility & flexibility, and will set your body up for optimal post-workout recovery. It's also important to replenish the body with fluids, so make sure you bring your water with you.
NOT UTILIZING BOTH PASSIVE & ACTIVE RECOVERY
Active Recovery happens when you use a lighter activity to recover from your high-intensity workouts. For example, walking, yoga, a hike, or swimming can be good for active recovery, as they all keep the body moving and heart rate active. Passive Recovery happens during times of little or no movement (i.e. sleep, getting a massage, or resting on the couch). Your utilization of BOTH active and passive recovery can make a major difference in your body's ability to recover optimally from your workout.
While we may want to take our weekend rest days on the couch, make sure to do something light to keep the body moving!
POOR POST-WORKOUT NUTRITION
Your body operates at its best metabolically in the 30 minutes after your workout, so be thoughtful about what you're consuming after your workout. Be sure to have a healthy snack of veggies, fruits, and protein. Here are some foods to steer away from: processed food, high-sugar snacks, high-sugar drinks (i.e. soda), fast food, etc.
Put the best fuel in your body to get the best results!
Overtraining can look different, but the effect on your recovery process works similarly. Working out too long, too hard, or too often can cut into your body's time to recover, which leads to muscle fatigue (not to be confused with being tired or sore) as well as a higher risk for injury. This feeling of fatigue can often come from gym burnout as well!
A general rule of thumb is to allow a particular muscle group up roughly 48 hours to recover before hitting them again in the weight room, but at the very least, be sure to include all other aspects of recovery like stretching, rest, and proper nutrition to refuel your muscles.
NOT STARTING SMALL
It's common that people returning to the gym try to jump in full-throttle and will have a goal to go 5 days a week and hit an intense workout each of those five days. What's common with that type of reintroduction to the gym is burnout. This is especially true when your body isn't acclimated to being in the gym 5x per week, and typically what follows is higher levels of soreness, fatigue, or even a crash after your first week back.
Unfortunately, this kind of reception to being back to the gym will discourage most from coming back in Week 2. Instead of hitting 5 days your first week back, start with 2 or 3 days to get your body re-acclimated to the exercise. From there, you can work your way up to 4 days, then finally the 5 days you're thriving for.
Remember, your physical well-being is a life-long game, and proper recovery will help you make it long-term.
Want to learn more about how to recover properly? Check out this episode of GymTalk on our YouTube channel!