5 tips to aid recovery

The basics of recovery.

Pain is just weakness leaving the body… No pain, no gain… Two sayings that reinforce the more is more mentality in fitness. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying fitness should be easy, but we have to challenge this “beast mode” mentality when it’s not supported by adequate recovery.

Great fitness coaches are just facilitators of adaptation. We provide a stimulus, ensure there is sufficient recovery and watch super compensation do its thing.

But as it stands, the majority of fitness enthusiast’s recovery strategy consists of a protein shake, a quick play with a foam roller and Netflix. For some, this may be sufficient, but if you’re training intensely, working long hours, not getting great sleep and eating food on the go, you may want to re-think your strategy.

5 things to consider with recovery:

Sleep

Sleep is important for a long list of functions in the body, and we all know that not getting enough doesn’t make you feel great. Inadequate sleep leads to the obvious mental acuity and energy issues, but it also screws up hormones like leptin, ghrelin, insulin, and testosterone.

When we sleep is also important, ideally, we should not only sleep at night and wake in the day, but we should also aim to sleep and wake at the same time every day. The more rhythm we have with our sleep, the better our circadian rhythm (body clock). Having great circadian rhythm leads to better sleep, better hormone balance, better blood sugar and important to this article, better recovery.

Hydration

We are 60% water! I know you hear that a lot, but it’s true. Water has many roles in the body; it dissolves other substances, it transports substances, it catalyzes (starts) chemical reactions, it lubricates tissues and provides minerals. In short, we need water to survive, and we need the right amount to thrive.

It’s important to note that hydration doesn’t stop with water. Fluid balance in the body is also dependant on electrolytes like sodium, potassium, chloride, and calcium. For the average person, a healthy whole food diet will supply the electrolytes, however, if you’re training intensely and sweat a lot, it may be a good idea to take in an electrolyte drink.

Active Recovery / MAP 10

Active recovery, Zone 1 work or what we call MAP 10 work is a powerful tool to upgrade your recovery. It helps to improve blood flow, reduces stress and even improves lymph drainage. If you take your MAP 10 work outside, you get the added benefit of Vitamin D. The pace of your active recovery work should be something you could sustain for 4 hours, but only do for 30-60 minutes.

Nutrition and Digestion

Obviously, nutrition is a big part of recovery, as every protein shake company has told you; you don’t want to miss the window of gains. This is a bit of a blanket statement, but I think we can agree what you eat will affect how your body recovers and adapts. I would argue it’s not just about what you eat, it’s about what you’re able to digest and assimilate.

Eat a varied, colorful whole food diet rich in organic meats and fish. This will offer you all the micronutrients you need for recovery. But don’t forget HOW you eat is a big part of great recovery, take time to relax and focus at meal times, chew your food 25 times/bite and avoid large amounts of liquid 30 minutes before and after meal times.

Stress management

Take 5! Chronic stress or anxiety can make your body catabolic (breaking down), rather than anabolic (building up). Take time to reduce stress before meals and in the evening when you’re preparing for sleep.

There are great apps to help us learn and practice how to meditate; check out “headspace,” or “Calm” and thank us later.

If intentional meditation is a bit too much for you right now, try taking deep diaphragmatic breaths for just 60 seconds. This stimulates the rest and the digestive system via the vagus nerve. This is something easily squeezed in before each meal and as soon as you get home from work.

There is a lot more to fitness than the time you spend in the gym. To learn more about upgrading your fitness journey, book a free gym tour with one of our professional personal trainers!

James Grogan