You’ve spent time carefully planning your workouts for the week. You give your all for every workout. You push yourself and challenge yourself to better yourself for yourself.
Yes, you may be taking your training very seriously. But, you may not be getting the most out of your exercise. Forgetting that rest and recovery is equally as important as going all out while you train.
Your post-workout nutrition and recovery routine plays a very important role in your progression and optimum body function and performance. Paying attention to your post-workout recovery will allow you to train more effectively and maximise the rewards of the effort you’ve put in.
Why are rest and recovery important?
The chance to recover (and therefore progress) begins the moment you’re finished with your exercise. And getting that tone in your muscle can't happen without proper and effective recovery.
When your body is under stress, it will begin a process to deal with that stress. Then to recover and adapt so that it is better prepared to handle the same stressors if exposed to it again.
When it comes to exercise, your workout or training is the stress that your body goes through. When you’re exercising your muscles, you’re effectively causing your muscles to tear and breakdown.
Now, we’re not saying you shouldn’t train hard. The stress that your body goes through during a workout when your muscles are exposed to stress is the trigger that is essential to the process of improving your physical state. It’s the beginning of the Stress-Adaptation-Recovery Cycle. And it needs to be intense in order for the process to be set in motion.
According to the Stress-Adaptation-Recovery Cycle, you’re getting stronger in the Adaptation and Recovery phases when muscles begin to repair, rather than when you’re exposed to Stress.
So effectively, your muscles get stronger and leaner when you recover, not when you’re training.
The Fundamentals: Food and Sleep
The building blocks of post-workout recovery are simple. It’s down to the two essentials of food and sleep.
After exhausting your energy stores with your workout, you will need to refuel if you expect your body to repair, recover, strengthen and, ultimately, be ready for the next time you exercise.
Food and nutrition are essential for your body to adapt to the stress of exercise. Your body requires good nutrition, so you need to eat good and nourishing food. You need to ensure that you include high-quality proteins and complex carbohydrates for your post-workout meal.
This is especially important if you’re exercising frequently or trying to build a leaner physique.
Another way to ensure a solid post-workout nutrition plan is looking at whether you’ve hit your macro goals. Macro goals are the proportion of your daily calorie intake that comes from carbohydrates, protein and fat.
If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) is a great nutrition plan to follow to ensure a balanced diet that will fulfil your body’s needs, especially in repair. It’s easy to implement which means it’s also easy to stick to. Once you know what your macro goals are, you can also use MyFitnessPal to track what you eat.
A good time to ensure you’re nourishing your body is after a work-out. When you’re working out, your body is using up glycogen stores to fuel your exercise. Which means that post-workout your body is being depleted of glycogen and some of the proteins in your muscles are broken down.
After exercise, your body’s aiming to restore glycogen stores and repair and regrow proteins in your muscles. Eating the right nutrients will speed up this process of repair.
Carbohydrates and protein are essential after your workout. It will help to decrease the breakdown of muscle protein, increase and stimulate muscle growth or muscle protein synthesis, restore glycogen stores and boost recovery.
Tip: be specifically focused about getting enough protein each day because protein provides your body with the building blocks to build new muscle tissue. Having an adequate amount of protein will provide the essential amino acids required to repair and rebuild your muscles.
We all need it; we all love it. While you’re getting some shut-eye, there are incredible things that are happening internally in your body. Good quality, deep sleep is essential for everyone, especially someone who exercises regularly.
When you’re asleep, your body is producing a growth hormone that is responsible for muscle and tissue growth and repair. In turn, maximising the effects of your training by supporting your recovery.
Bottom-line: your training and recovery will suffer from poor quality or lack of sleep.
The best way to ensure quality shut-eye is to have a good sleep routine that aids a good night’s sleep every night. Different things are effective for different people. Some common remedies are Sleep teas, essential oils, an eye mask and being disciplined in turning off electronics an hour before bedtime.
Rest and recovery are super important in order to maximize the benefits of your workout. Food and sleep are the basic fundamentals of effective rest and recovery.
Post-workout nutrition should consist of consuming proper amounts of carbohydrates and protein in order to stimulate muscle growth and repair and replenishes glycogen stores. This will also allow you to enhance your performance for your next workout.
And, don’t forget to get good quality sleep every night!
When you train like a champion, you deserve to recover like a champion. That’s when the real gains are made.