Get all the benefits from your toughest workouts by recovering properly
The principle of adaptation forms the basis of the entire science of sports: stress from physical exercise causes our bodies to adapt and become more efficient.
Basically, More practice, more perfect. Your body gets better at running, cycling, rowing, or whatever the activity you engage it in. And once your body adapts to a certain training load adding more stress—harder workouts—will yield even more progress.
Yet it’s important to understand how to effectively balance training. Overdo it (put too much stress on your body) and your body’s ability to recover breaks down. Continuous training without allowing your body sufficient time to repair itself will undoubtedly impair performance. Many of us feel guilty taking days off, even those of us who are already overtraining.
Not recovering properly is a big mistake. After all, muscle isn’t built when you work out, but when you recover. Smart athletes recognize that getting enough rest is essential to getting into great shape. Rest and recovery days are equally as important as your workouts.
The right way to begin your recovery is with low-intensity exercise immediately after a hard workout: doing a cool-down. Following a cool-down, take advantage of the recovery window, a critical 30-minute period after your workout. Enhanced protein synthesis at this time maximizes muscle building. Carbs restore glycogen stores to keep you from that dreaded post-workout bonk. This is also the time when soft tissues like tendons and ligaments repair and strengthen themselves. To maximize your gains during the recovery window, consume adequate fluids to replace everything you sweated out within 30 minutes of finishing your training. Eat a balanced meal—not just protein, but also carbs.
The night after a hard workout, it’s also important to get good rest: quality sleep allows our bodies to produce human growth hormone (HGH), another critical element to proper recovery and strength gains.
BALANCING EXERCISE, REST & RECOVERY
Balancing adaptation and recovery is proven to elevate you to a higher level of fitness—in fact, it’s the basis of every sound training program. Experienced athletes understand this: the higher the intensity and effort, the greater the need for planned recovery.