Are you optimizing your recovery to maximize your workouts?

When it comes to fitness, we notice that people have the tendency to focus on programs, workouts, and exercises, but one of the things we're not talking about is recovery.

Recovery is one of those terms that we hear all the time in the health and fitness world, but what is it exactly?

Recovery is the act of restoring the body or repairing muscular tissue so we can put it in its most optimal state. The problem is that most people don't actually know what recovery is, so they dismiss it. Proper recovery is not always prioritized.

But what if I told you that you could really optimize your next workout or training session by just remembering to do a few simple things?

Let’s start by breaking recovery down into two types.

In active recovery, something as simple as doing a 10 to 15-minute light walk on a treadmill, after a workout session, will do wonders for your recovery results. Foam rolling and light stretching, again, usually post workout, will do a lot for you. If you have more time, going for a walk outside or swimming is also a really good way to recover.

We also have passive recovery techniques, including ice baths, massages, saunas, steam baths, or whirlpools. Any of these techniques, in combination with active recovery techniques, will work well to optimize your workout program and make sure you’re getting the most out of it.

Something we notice people struggle with are "I'm doing my program but I'm not losing any weight," or, "I'm not gaining any size.”

Are you a person that says, "Oh, you know, I'm really, really tired today but I'm gonna push through it"? Or are you somebody that says, "I was out and I had a few drinks but you know what? It's leg day and I'm gonna go through it"? If you're one of those people that has any of these types of questions or you say that to yourself frequently, then maybe the issue isn't in what you are doing, but actually in what you're not doing, and that leads us to recovery. 

Now, to a lot of people, recovery is a bad word. It has a negative connotation. Some people think recovery is being lazy or unmotivated. I can't tell you how many times that I've heard that. But the truth of it is that your recovery is the key to your progress.

There are three components when looking at the importance of recovery. The first one is nutrition, second one would be lifestyle, and third is training.

From a nutritional standpoint, are you the type of person that has one meal a day or leaves huge gaps between your meals? Or are you somebody that just doesn't get good quality food, living off of McDonald's or any kind of fast food? Are you getting enough water?

All of these things play a really big part in your recovery. If you're not giving yourself the right raw material to run off of, then you're going to have problems down the line.

In terms of lifestyle, do you stay up late? Are you spending a lot of time on your iPad or on your computer? Are you giving yourself enough time for complete rest?

These things each contribute to your body’s recovery process. You can't grow muscle or lose weight if your body is in a fatigued or unhealthy state. That's the first rule. You can't out-train poor eating habits, and you can't out-train your habit of not getting enough sleep or rest.

Lastly, training is a big factor in recovery. Is your program right for you?

Say your workout program is beating you up, and you feel exhausted the next few days. If you go back into the gym again, and you're still feeling exhausted or beat up, it's possible that program or that training session may not necessarily be right for you. 

These are just some things to keep in mind when thinking about if you’re giving yourself the right conditions to recover as best as possible and maximize your exercise efforts and results.

If you have any questions, leave a comment below or give us a call.

Coach Allister Buchanan, CPT, GEI