Want to know one of the greatest secrets to being stronger, swifter and fitter? Hint: it’s not about lifting more, running faster or adding extra workouts! One way to becoming fitter is to apply the science of recovery.
The healing and repair process is as important, if not more important, than the actual exercise or training you do. To improve your endurance, increase your muscle mass, and even build a better brain, you need time to rest and recover. Your body will adapt faster, you’ll have fewer injuries and you’ll be healthier.
Here are my four steps to getting the most out of your workouts – after your workouts
Step 1: Active Recovery
Warm down slowly and properly to clear your body of waste products that accumulate when you exercise. Help your muscles out by taking 5-15 minutes of active recovery. During active recovery your muscles shouldn’t be burning, but you shouldn’t be completely resting. You could cycle, walk fast or run slowly.
Step 2: Rehydrate
Rehydrate with water. If you’ve been working out for longer than 90 minutes or in hot, humid conditions, you can add some carbohydrates and electrolytes to your drink. But most of all, focus on water. You need a lot of it to properly heal and grow.
Step 3: Refuel
It’s time to get nutrients back into your system. I believe that post-workout nutrition should improve your overall health, hence my objection to chocolate milk. Stick to the healthy foods we have already discussed. If your workout is more aerobic, try a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein. If you’re doing strength training or higher-intensity intervals, eat closer to a 2:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein.
Step 4: Regenerate
The most important part of building your endurance, increasing your muscle mass, building stronger bones, creating new blood vessels and more blood, and even building a stronger brain is to allow your body time and the rest that it needs to recover, regenerate and rebuild. The better you recover and regenerate, the better your body will adapt, the fewer injuries you'll have and the healthier you'll become.
Here are some basic regeneration times to hold in mind: for light workouts, 8-12 hours is enough. Strength or interval workouts normally require about 48 hours. Long endurance sessions require about 24-48 hours. Pure speed and sprint training sessions take 48-72 hours to recover from.
Today's Power Up: Practice the 4 Steps
1. Finish your workouts with 5-15 minutes of light cardio.
2. Then have a drink of clear, cold water.
3. Follow that with a healthy snack.
4. And finally - get some sleep!
You'll feel better and your performance will improve exponentially!