We all know the feeling of being incredibly sore after a brutal workout, but I can guarantee that you are not doing/incorporating all of the methods that are in this article. Recovery is the name of the game if you want to be in it for the long haul and continue training towards your goals.
1.) Active Recovery
This is completely in your control. Think about how many times you have seen or been the person who runs out of the gym immediately after finishing the workout. We CANNOT be this person. Even if you are low on time, getting some sort of stretch/cool-down will dramatically benefit you compared to not doing anything at all. The day after a workout might leave you feeling sore as hell and it might even hurt to sit down on the toilet, but the worst thing you could possibly do is sit on the couch the entire day after a workout. Even if you work a job that requires you sit at a desk for long periods of time, this still pertains to you, so listen up. Incorporating some type of movement whether it be hours or day(s) after the workout is essential for optimal recovery. Try going for a walk, stretching, performing some mobility drills or even a bike ride (if the weather permits). Getting some blood flow into the body and into the muscles is the goal, so any light activity will get the job done. Think about it, how great would it be to not be super sore the day after leg day?
More than half of the human body is made up of water! Yet, we still don’t drink enough? WHY NOT?!? This is one of the easiest things we can do to improve our performance in and out of the gym. Once we become dehydrated, it will increase the amount of soreness after workouts, increase joint pain and decrease your muscle’s ability to repair and recover.
My recommendation: We should set a goal to consume 2/3 of our body weight in water every day. An easy way to calculate this is to take your body weight and multiply it by .66. This number is the amount of ounces of water to consume every day.
To perform at your best, whether it be physical performance in the gym or even cognitive performance such as being able to learn new things and have good memory, we need an adequate amount of sleep. Everything in our body recharges when we sleep. If we don’t get enough sleep, our overall performance will suffer, both in and out of the gym. To name a few side affects of lack of sleep: your immune system will take a hit making it more likely for you to get sick, make us more susceptible to gain weight and of course lack of energy throughout the day.
A few tips to improve your quality of sleep:
- Go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time every day.
- Stay away from your cell phone and computer or anything else that has bright lights at least 30 minutes before going to sleep.
- Make your bedroom as dark as possible and try to sleep in a cool room.
- Don’t consume alcohol or caffeine within 5 hours of going to sleep. Some say two drinks before bed helps them “pass out” but it is not going to be a restful sleep!
4.) Mentality of training to stimulate, not annihilate
Having super intense workouts every day of the week will most likely leave you feeling like shit at the end of the week. It does not matter who you are, or what your goals are whether it be to jump higher, run faster, lose some body fat, feel better, or just train to be healthy, we all must have this mentality. Also, we must not chase fatigue, rather we should chase progress. Our training should be progressive, meaning we should be trying to improve every time we are in the gym and not trying to become nauseous. For example, instead of using 20lb dumbbells for a certain exercise, next time use 25lbs for the same amount of sets and reps. This is progress and exactly what we should be chasing!
5.) Going to an ART professional
If you are not familiar with ART, it stands for Active Release Technique. Massage therapists and chiropractors are people who specialize in ART and help tons of people every day. Yes it can be expensive but your body is definitely worth it. You only get one body so give it some love! I’m not saying you schedule an appointment every week, but maybe start with once every two or three months. It will benefit your body’s longevity, increase your range of motion and most importantly make you feel better.