One of the most satisfying parts of any workout might be the sweat. It makes us feel alive and accomplished! What you may not realize, however, is that it’s the RECOVERY that comes AFTER the sweat fest that matters the most.
When it comes to your body, transformation doesn’t happen without sweat. You have to push yourself every time you work out to build muscle, lose fat, and sculpt a physique that makes you proud. But what most people don’t understand is that you don’t build muscle during workouts — you build it BETWEEN them. RECOVERY is the most overlooked aspect of training!
But what is recovery anyway?
Training recovery involves the normalization of things like heart rate and blood pressure, as well as a replenishment of energy stores (e.g., glucose and muscle glycogen), and a restoration of cellular enzymes, such as phosphofructokinase, which is used in carbohydrate metabolism. Basically, it is returning to a point where the body can match or exceed its performance in a previous workout or competition. Can you once again nail that big lift, or perhaps even lift a little more?
THAT is the goal.
So before you brag about your Day #15 of HAM workouts in a row, consider the benefits of proper RECOVERY:
- You’ll refill that tank!
Every cell in your body runs on the same energy source, a molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). During intense workouts, ATP is largely produced by one of two pathways — the phosphagen system, which uses creatine phosphate to produce ATP, and the glycolytic system, which uses glycogen to produce ATP. The system that’s used depends on the intensity and duration of exercise. If you’re doing sprints or snatches, you’re going to burn through your creatine phosphate stores. If you’re doing metabolic circuits or 800-meter repeats, you’ll exhaust your glycogen.
If you don’t fully replenish those stores before your next workout, your performance will suffer, fatigue will set in much sooner and you risk injury.
- Sweep out the metabolic dust
As your body produces ATP through those two pathways, metabolic byproducts (“dust”) build up. The one most people are familiar with is lactic acid. As it builds in muscles during exercise, it begins to inhibit ATP production and impair muscle contraction. You’ll bonk, and that sucks.
- Patch and Build
Tough training damages muscles, creating micro-tears and roughing up everything from connective tissue to contractile proteins. That’s not a bad thing — this is how we build muscle! But until the “patching” is complete (usually within 24 to 48 hours), the muscle won’t be able to peak and the transport of glycogen into its cells will be slowed.
Pretty important, right?
NOW I bet you are wondering if there is any way you can help your body recover faster, because let’s be honest, you want to get back in the gym!
The answer is YES, and here is how:
-Make your recovery days “active”. Walk, swim, hike, take a Yoga or Zumba class. This gentle movement will allow your muscles to repair while moving out that metabolic dust.
– Get some sleep. And then get some more sleep. Many of us don’t get enough sleep and that really hurts our training progress! Most athletes need 7-8.5 hours of sleep a day.
– Eat your darn carbohydrates! A ratio of 75% carbs to 25% protein post workout is optimal. Keep them high fiber, though! Oreos don’t count! Cherries, berries, whole grains and sweet potatoes are good choices AND fight inflammation.
-Jump in our massage chair here at Give Fitness or find a qualified massage therapist. It will help break up scar tissue, increase blood flow, improve mobility and range of motion, and reduce soreness. Plus, it just feels so good!
Most of you don’t spend enough time recovering, and you need to start. For performance in your workout and ultimate results in your training, RECOVERY must be planned and a non-optional part of your fitness plan.
Prep your food.
Schedule your workouts.
It all works together to reap great results in good time, safely.