We sweat, huff, puff and push our bodies to the absolute limit, because let’s face it; showing up at the gym is only half the battle! The other half is making the decision to get on the gym floor and work at your maximum effort!
Now, if you are anything like me, and you push your body to perform at complete capacity every day, then recovering effectively is of major importance and an absolute necessity!
So, how do you recover completely and effectively? The following recommendations are those I have accumulated through years of being a qualified Bio-Signature Practitioner, qualified by the amazing Charles Poliquin, elite athlete and a gym junkie who has a he passion for her own health and fitness. They have all been personally tried, tested and recorded to help take the guess work out of how to get the most from your body through effective recovery protocols. I can safely and independently say these recommendations have made a huge difference to the way I train and are the one major change responsible for my incredible body composition changes.
First point of Importance: Take your Post workout supplements (especially if you are using a pre-workout).
After a tough session, your immune system is supressed, your muscles are fatigued, cortisol (stress hormone) is coursing through your veins and your body may be fighting catabolism (the breakdown of muscle tissue for fuel), therefore it is of the utmost importance to calm/relax your body and support protein synthesis (muscle growth). Through the knowledge gained as a Bio-Signature Practitioner the three Poliquin products I personally use and recommend and are:
The highly potent and bio-available vitamin c supplement boosts our immune system and prevents us preventing nasty viruses.
Magnesium Glycinate plays a major role in protein synthesis, increasing immune function and much, much more. This product helps the body switch from post workout catabolism to a relaxed anabolic (muscle building) state.
B.C.A.A’S are essential Amino Acids used during and after a demanding training session to provide the body extra fuel. B.C.A.A’S prevent catabolism and increase anabolism by raising insulin and growth hormone levels. They also increase work out endurance and allow you to push harder than you thought you could. B.C.A.A’S taken at the end of your session provide a marked increase in post workout soreness recovery, protein synthesis and testosterone levels.
In summary: These 3 supplements prevent the body using muscle as fuel, fight the contraction of viruses, increase testosterone and growth hormone production/stimulation, decrease muscle soreness, boost protein synthesis and therefore allow you to recover faster and train at the same intensity day in and day out.
Second point of Importance: Consume a Post workout Protein Supplementation.
Using a high quality protein supplement 5-20 mins after you complete your workout is super important to stop catabolism. Protein is used to heal the “micro tears” in the muscle (small tears in the muscle caused by intense muscular contractions during your session) and aid the body in muscle building-Protein synthesis. A liquid protein supplement is best as it is quickly digested (in approximately 30 minutes) and therefore reaches the muscles and prevents/cancels catabolism.
Third point of Importance: Eat a healthy balanced meal 90 minutes after your workout.
Eating a healthy balanced meal within 90 minutes of completing your workout helps the body in a hefting process known as remodeling. Re modelling is where the body tears down older, less adapted muscles in order to rebuild stronger more functional muscles. For remodeling to occur the in the body post workout it must be provided with the essential raw materials, in other words, the correct nutrition.
Your post workout feed should be rich in protein and complex carbohydrates and also fat free.
Now this last comment (fat free) may seem a little hypocritical to my teaching, as I communicate that essential fatty acids are super important and the most overlooked aspect of our daily nutrition, though in our post workout meal fats can actually decrease the effectiveness by slowing down digestion and the absorption of protein and carbohydrates and therefore are not recommended in this meal.
And lucky last: Rest and Recovery
After a heavy gym session the body needs rest and recover to allow for hormone regulation, neurological repair, structural repair and protein synthesis. This point, doesn’t simply refer to sleep, it encompasses hydration, nutrition, supplementation, stretching, self-myofascial release, remedial massage and heat/icing/compression.
- A deep, restful 8-10 hours’ sleep allows for hormone balance, protein synthesis (muscle repair) and neurological repair (mental health). During REM sleep (the deepest sleep: Rapid Eye Movement REM) the body restores organs, bones and tissues, repairs our immune system and circulates Human Growth Hormone (HGH aids in protein synthesis). REM sleep repairs the brain and allows alertness and energy for the following day and your next intense training session.
- Hydration is extremely important in rest and recovery as water helps all of our functions. To tell is you are effectively hydrated or dehydrated simply look at the colour of your urine. A clear to pale yellow represents hydration, whilst dark yellow refers to dehydration. A simply equation I use is 0.039xBodyWeight for example I weigh 69kg and therefore need to drink 2.691 litres per day (0.039×69=2.691. If during physical exertion you sweat profoundly, I recommend an additional litre of water be consumed to offset the loss of fluids during your training session.
- Nutrition and Supplementation-Please refer to the above passages.
- Stretching allows for flexibility in the muscles which allows for greater training gains. Stretching realigns muscle fibres, after they are torn apart during hypertrophy, and permits the development of long, lean muscles to occur with more easily during sleep.
- Remedial Massage and Self-Myofascial release (Foam rolling) have similar effects to static and dynamic stretching used pre and post workout, except they allow for greater help with exceptionally tight muscles, trigger points and muscular alignment aiding in faster repair of damaged tissue
- Ice/Heat/Compression are techniques used to help recovering injuries, post-race or after a very strenuous training session.
To conclude, spending some additional time focusing on rest and recovery can pay huge dividends beyond additional training sessions. Dedicating your focus on post session recovery may seem very time consuming, though by concentrating on supplementation, nutrition, sleep, hydration and stretching/massage you will increase performance, allow for accelerated growth, decrease recovery time and lower the risk of major/minor injuries.
Post session rest and recovery is almost a legal performance enhancement when taken seriously and completed effectively. Seriously peeps, rest and recovery is the key to amazing gains in your fitness and health and is why it’s the number one most important pillar in ultimate health and fitness.