Smashing a 200kg set of leg pushes felt like nothing yesterday. You were in full beast mode, nothing was going to stop you finishing that 15th
rep. Today’s a different story. Short of being pushed out of bed this morning, you’re a wreck. To say your muscles are stiff is a severe understatement – you basically don’t have any lower-limb function. Walking is an issue. Going down stairs is nearly impossible.
You’re not alone: we’ve all been in the same position. Even if you haven’t hit the gym floor in a few days, a prolonged or heavy workout can take its toll on even the fittest gym bunny. You should know that rest is just as important as hitting the gym: a strong recovery routine can get you training more effectively and have you reaching your fitness goals before you expected. If you’re feeling a little worse for wear, here’s how you can recover, quicker:
This is strictly an H20 recommendation! After a heavy weight lifting, cardio session or gym class, it’s crucial you replace the fluids you’ve lost in your workout. As a standard you should be drinking at least 2 litres of water a day (that doesn’t include your daily tea, coffee or shake though) and be gulping away throughout your workout too. Water aids your recovery, supports all metabolic function and the transfer of nutrients around your body – plus, when you sweat you lose crucial fluids that helps your body repair itself. Help your body out by staying hydrated.
By hitting your workout, you’re already reaching a calorie deficit. With the energy you’re expelling, you not only need to replenish what you’ve lost, but also refuel your body to aid muscle recovery and beat post-workout fatigue. It’s advised to eat within 60-minutes and no longer that 2-hours since completing your workout – that way you’re giving your body the fuel it needs to repair, build muscle, get stronger and ultimately recover for your next workout. Ensure your after-exercise meal includes good quality proteins and complex carbohydrates to get the most from your meal and get you recovering quickly.
Read this for some breakfast ideas for before and after your workout
To recover better, avoid repetition. So, if you had leg day yesterday, today you should be working a different muscle group. You need to give your body the time to rest and repair to see the full benefits of your workout. If you repeatedly exercise on a specific muscle group, day after day, you’re more likely to suffer from injury and less likely to recover properly. Your body has the ability to rebuild muscle and heal itself, you just need to give it the time. It’s recommended you give yourself at least 2 rest days per week and don’t be afraid of taking an extra day off if you need it!
Here are our 5 favourite classes
that will help you avoid repetition!
Roll it out
Foam rolling can be your best friend and your worse enemy, all at the same time. There’s the incredible relief you get from easing out your tense muscles, and then there’s the extreme pain that this can bring. With foam rolling, you’ll relax overworked muscles and draw more blood to the area you’re rolling; this all helps aid your recovery after a tough session in the gym. Stretching the muscle helps you avoid the dreaded DOMs (Delayed Onset Muscle soreness) which is a result of over-exercise and lack of stretching. Aid recovery by paying as much attention to your foam roller as you do the treadmill and you’ll be recovering quicker than you’d expect.
Get to bed
Getting enough sleep is essential to your recovery. Our bodies do most of their repair when we’re asleep. The Growth Hormone (GH) that’s released when we get some shut eye is responsible for the growth and repair of tissue – so our muscles are actively repairing at their best when we’re catching some Z’s. Sounds like it’s time for an early night…
Step away from the gym
If you’re in a constant cycle of workout fatigue and you’re not seeing much improvement, it sounds like you need to step away from the gym and take a few rest days. Just like when you need to avoid overtraining certain muscle groups, hitting the gym on the reg too hard is just as detrimental to you. If you’re training too much (yes there is such a thing), it’s likely you’ll see your progress plateau, you become more susceptible to injury and generally feel a bit ropey. If you’re over-training, listen closer to your body and ease it off a little. If you’re really looking to shed some excess weight, training a maximum 5 times a week will help you achieve your goal – bear in mind you’ll need to take a minimum of 2 days’ rest to allow your body time to recover.
Hot and cold
Some athletes plunge into icy cold baths to recover quicker – it reduces muscle soreness and prevents injury. Want to give it a go? Achieve this at home by running a super cold bath and plunging yourself in or take a cold shower for 30 seconds and alternate with 2 minutes of hot water. You can reduce the onset of the infamous DOMs and left feeling pretty invigorated!
If the cold plunge isn’t your thing, relax in a hot bath filled with Epsom salts – they’re known to soothe sore muscles as the sulphates flush out the toxins that contribute to muscle tension. If you’ve had a long training session, hit the bath after and soak away your tired muscles!
If you’ve tried everything and you’re still not recovering at the rate you need, you might need to reach out for professional help…we’re of course talking about massage therapy! A good sports massage (although sometimes uncomfortable) can help you recover quicker and reduce injury for next time. A sports massage actively relieves tension in the muscle and encourages greater blood flow to the area – all helping you recover. It just might hurt a bit beforehand…sorry!
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