Did you know that the gym is the leading place in which muscle fibers are torn? Real progress in terms of growth and strength occur after training has ended.
What is recovery?
People talk a lot about recovery, but what is it? Recovery begins the instant the last exercise in your training program ends, and it can last for days depending on the intensity of your workout. We generally recover on two levels: metabolic and structural.
Metabolic recovery involves restoring our reserves of glycogen, which is the form in which carbohydrates are stored to provide energy to the muscles.
Structural recovery entails the rebuilding of the muscle proteins damaged by intense training and fighting the damage caused by free radicals.
Nonetheless, with the right recovery techniques and some smart supplements, you can recover that drop in performance.
Here are a few strategies: nutritional recovery
Nutritional recovery directly following the workout: as you know by now, proteins and carbohydrates are crucial, both before and after your training sessions. According to one study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, soldiers who consumed a mix of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats after a normal workout reported less muscle pain and suffered fewer injuries, infections, and heatstroke than those who ate only carbohydrates and fats or nothing at all after their exercise.
Supplementing with long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (EPHA and DHA) is also undoubtedly effective in decreasing inflammation in the body, improving mood and attention, reducing recovery times, and lowering the risk of injury. We can infer from this that it is extremely important to get a complete intake of nutrients in the period immediately following exercise.
Any advice? In the 30 minutes following physical activity, drink a shake of milk-derived proteins. Add anywhere from 40 to 80 g of quick-digesting carbohydrates, because unlike other times of the day, immediately after exercising carbohydrates are more recommended. For those who don’t know, quick-digesting carbohydrates are foods rich in starch and low in fiber, such as bread, rice, sweets, potatoes, breakfast cereals, snack foods, and sweet drinks.
Always remember to consult your doctor if you have any intolerance, allergies, or illnesses.
Then, an hour or two after your post-workout shake, eat a meal based on highly digestible proteins, such as fish, eggs, and lean poultry, paired with slow-digesting carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, oats, pasta and rice, so long as they are strictly whole grain.
A Finnish study conducted by the Olympic Sports Research Institute indicated that treatment in hot water three times a week after intense athletic activity facilitates better muscular recovery than the same type of exercise without the treatment.
Another effective treatment is called contrast therapy (or contrast baths) and consists of alternating between hot and cold baths. Two recent studies from the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra have shown that contrast hydrotherapy not only reduces muscle soreness in athletes, but also improves recovery and accelerates their reacquisition of strength and power. Before performing this type of physical recovery technique, you should always get your doctor’s permission if you have any circulatory or blood pressure issues.
For physical recovery, while rest is the most recommended, a yoga class or a session of just stretching with your personal trainer could also be helpful to you.
In fact, a study published in 2004 by the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research indicates that a session of yoga or stretching after a workout that is particularly hard on the legs noticeably helps alleviate muscle pain and also keeps the stress hormone cortisol under control.