Would you be surprised if I told you the most important part of your fitness regimen may not be your actual workout?
Two crucial components of fitness and overall performance are also two of the most underutilized components – rest and recovery.
They may seem like synonymous terms but let’s break down the difference:
Rest – refers to sleep and any time spent not training. Simple enough
Recovery – techniques or things that you do to help aid in your body’s repair post-workout
It’s no surprise that sleep is important. Everyone has their own individual needs for rest but adequate sleep can improve mental health, balance hormones and help in muscle recovery.
Improving Sleep Habits
- Reduce blue light exposure at night
The blue lights can impact your circadian rhythm and trick your body into thinking it is still daytime. You can wear blue light blocking glasses or download an app on your smartphone to reduce the emission.
- Optimize Sleeping Environment
Temperature, noise and external lights can all have an affect on your sleep quality. 70° F is a comfortable sleeping temperature for most people, though this can still be dependent on preferences. Reduce exposure to artificial light and external noises such as traffic.
- Get Comfy
Sleeping on a comfortable mattress is key. Although preference for firmness is all yours, mattresses should be replaced at least every 5-10 years.
Utilize non-training time
Likely, less than 5% of your week will be spent training. While work, family-time and the responsibilities will take up most of the time, make time for leisure activities that you enjoy!
Recovery is a little more complex and has many different aspects and techniques. Utilizing these techniques together can help ease recovery after challenging training days.
You have been hounded on how important hydrating throughout the day is but it is even more crucial when working out. A good sweat session means you are losing a lot of fluids. Replacing those fluids after your workout it step one is boosting your recovery. Water is key player in every metabolic function in the body to replacing water loss after a workout will help to improve bodily functions. For every pound you lose during a workout you need to replace with ~16 oz of water. Note that our body can only properly uptake around 16oz of water per hour. If you lose 2 lbs. in a workout, that means you will be drinking 32 oz of water over 2 hours after your workout.
Recover with nutrition
During a workout, energy stores are used. In order for the body to properly recover and repair tissues and build muscle. Post-workout snacks and meals should contain quality protein and carbohydrates. Nutrient timing after a workout is an important part fo the recovery process and you can read more about that here.
Don’t jet out of the gym door and skip that extra 5-6 minutes of stretching. Stretching warm muscles can help to reduce recovery time, reduce risk of injury and increase flexibility. There are many different ways of stretching such as static stretching, dynamic stretching and active isolated stretching. If you choose to utilize stretching to calm the mind and body before bed, check out this nightly stretch routine. (You can also do these stretches after your workout).
During the rest of the day following a workout and on non-training days try not to be completely sedentary. Take a leisurely walk during your lunch break or go for an easy bike ride around the neighborhood in the evening. Do something low-impact to get your body moving. Doing this will increase circulation, which helps to dispose of waste product throughout the body and reduce muscle soreness.