Many people don’t realize this when they start working out, but recovery is just as important as training, if not more so, if your goal is to gain muscle mass or tone. When you work out, you create thousands of microscopic tears in your muscles, and it’s the healing process that allows them to come back more defined, bigger, and stronger. So, if you neglect your recovery, you will not only fail to see gains, but you might actually start regressing. Thankfully, there are tons of ways that you can maximize the recovery process. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
Nutrition plays a central role in recovery, and if you don’t have a complete diet, your body will take more time to recover. Protein is what will repair your damaged tissues, but that’s not the only thing that you need. Sugars are also very important for recovery, so don’t assume that you’re doing your body any good by cutting down on sugar just after a workout.
Muscles burn what is known as glycogen for energy, which is derived from sugar. So, you’ll need to replenish these glycogen reserves before you can work out again. You should take simple sugars right after your workout as they’re easier to absorb, but don’t go too hard. During the rest of the day, however, you should go for complex carbs as simple carbs get stored as fat too fast.
Replenishing your glycogen reserves is important before you embark on another workout, and it gets replenished at a very slow rate, which is why it’s always recommended to wait at least one day between full-body workouts or never train the same muscle group heavily two days in a row.
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Sleep also plays a very important role in recovery. Sleep is when your body puts its repair process in overdrive and releases large amounts of growth hormone into the bloodstream. This is why you should never neglect sleep when you’re training and try to optimize your room for sleep.
The first thing you should do is get yourself a mattress that gives you support but will be soft enough to not put too much pressure on your body. You should also invest in black-out shades if the light is penetrating the room as it can disturb your sleep cycle. Electronic screens can also disrupt your internal clock, so stop watching screens at least two hours before going to sleep. You should also set the temperature in the room between the 60°F to 67°F mark and as it has been found to be the optimal range for sleep.
Practice Active Recovery
A lot of people equate recovery with doing nothing, but you could recover faster if you do some light activity after – with emphasis on the word “light” here. The more you move, the more blood will flow to your aching muscles and deliver the nutrients they need.
If you do a heavy leg workout, for instance, you could recover the next day by doing some light cycling or walking. If you trained your upper body, you could go outside and shoot some hoops for a few minutes. Another great activity to try after a workout is swimming as it will work your whole body and is one of the best and gentlest forms of aerobic exercise you can try.
These are all ways that you can accelerate recovery after tough workouts. Make sure that you get plenty of rest, but also listen to your body if you want to know when the best time is to work out again.