Hydrotherapy, Ice Baths, Hot/ Cold Showers, Compressions…when you hear all these words you immediately think of athletes. Recovery is an essential part of an athletes training. It allows them to train harder, more frequently, and get better gains. Recovery is scheduled into most athletes week, and it is just as important as one of their main training sessions. If athletes can get such a great benefit from recovery, then why can’t you?
Why Is Recovery So Beneficial?
Many reasons really. You can train harder, more frequently, and adapt a lot more efficiently to your last session. There are two important points when it comes to recovery. Firstly, regarding a weights session, it’s really important that you don’t work the same muscles two days in a row. You need to recover. Besides the fact that doing this can actually lead to injury and overtraining, you simply won’t get the gains you want. A muscle needs at least 24 hours off to regenerate and adapt. The hormones and enzymes don’t work right away. They peak late in the 24 hour period. This is where you get your gains from, and it needs to happen. To work it again right away will stop you from recovering and adapting. If you are doing a full body work out, then three days a week, with one day off in between is the best schedule. Something like Monday, Wednesday and Friday is a good schedule. If you are doing a split program you have to make sure that you aren’t working the same muscles groups on successive days. It can get a bit tricky with some of the intricate muscles so check with your trainer.
By doing some recovery sessions, and focusing a little more on it, you can actually get more gains, and train harder. You can speed up the recovery process, which means you will adapt faster and better. If you adapt faster you can be back on the track earlier, meaning more training, or at least more intense training. More quality training means more adaptations and more gains. By adapting more efficiently, you are getting the most out of your training.
How Do I Do It?
There are many methods of recovery. Here are some of the more common ones.
- Stretching– simple, easy, quick. Do it after every session. It helps get your muscles back to resting length.
- Active Recovery– It basically means moving. Moving in the days after a session promotes blood flow, which helps to flush out the crap from your muscles. Go for a walk and a stretch, or jump in the pool and move around a bit, it is as simply as that.
- Hot/Cold Showers– Alternate 30 seconds of cold shower, with 1 minute of hot. The theory behind it is that your blood vessels will constrict and dilate, helping flush out those toxins.
- Nutrition– Easy to do, and very important especially if your goal is to gain muscle. Your body wants to uptake food, within the first hour after a session. Protein is essential for someone who is trying to get stronger, and should be taken straight after your session.
- Massage- Feels good, and is great for you. Helps to stretch the muscles and get the blood flowing. Its a good idea to get one of these when you are feeling tired, or schedule a regular one in. You can also do self massage with foam rolling, which we will talk about in more length later.
- Sleep- possibly the most underrated recovery method going around.When you sleep you produce Growth Hormone. GH does what it says, it helps your body grow. No sleeping really messes with your hormones, even promotes a ones you really don’t want working.
Get Some Protein Into Ya. Pic: adactio
Seems Like A Lot, Do I Need To Do Them All?
Nope. Recovery for a non athlete doesn’t need to be done religiously. My advice for you is to make sure you always stretch. It’s simple and easy and very effective. Listen to your body, if you are feeling tired, and not getting the most out of your sessions, substitute one for a recovery session. Instead of killing a tired body, try to rejuvenate it, let it adapt, and get it ready to have an even more intense training than you could have done before. Sub in a pool session, where you do a few laps, have a stretch, walk and jog in the water a bit, for one of your sessions, and you will feel the difference. It doesn’t need to be a pool sessions all the time, go to the gym, ride the bike for 20 minutes and have a long stretch. Schedule a massage every now and then. You don’t need to sub sessions all the time, but when you are struggling, its a great way to get more out of your next training.
If you are aiming to gain some muscle, make sure you are taking in some protein straight after a session. Even if you aren’t aiming for that and you have done a really intense sessions, make sure you eat after. Your body needs the fuel to regenerate, if you don’t put anything in, there simply can’t be as many adaptations.
The harder you train the more gains you get. In some ways that is a myth. You can over train. You can train too hard, not recover enough, and simply not get the gains you want. Keep your body in check. Do the easy recovery things, and when you are feeling it, or even once every couple of weeks, try to rejuvenate the body a bit. You will get more gains and a lot more out of your training.