Rest and Recovery
No matter how extensive your fitness program may be, the time you spend working out is only a part of the process necessary to achieve your fitness goals. If you’re planning your training but not your recovery, you’re not going to fully reap the rewards from your Workouts.
One thing that is often misunderstood is the fact that your body becomes stronger AFTER you exercise and NOT during the actual workout itself. The real secret to getting results depends on what happens during the recovery period following the workout. This is why the correct recovery and rest is so important.
There are different types of recovery – Short-term (which happens immediately after a workout set) and Long-term (the period of time between workout sessions).
Short-term recovery can be anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes and it’s important to replace energy stores within this period. But the longer recovery period between workouts is the one to focus on, because it’s the time after the workout when the body adapts to the training session. The correct care of your muscles and connective tissue, eating the right type of post workout nutrition, the quality and quantity of sleep and, even the types of clothes you wear, can all promote the post-workout recovery that’s necessary to help you maximise the results from your time spent exercising.
During exercise, your muscles expend energy and experience stress. After exercise, the body needs to replenish energy with carbohydrates and repair tissue with protein so having a post-workout snack with the correct ratio of carbohydrate and protein can help massively. The correct nutrition also assists the release of the muscle-building hormones to repair and build new muscle tissue.
Stretching and Myofascial Release
Stretching, Massage, Foam rollers, Compression balls and Rolling sticks can all help to reduce muscle tightness. If a muscle doesn’t cool-down properly, the collagen fibres (which are part of the connective tissue surrounding each muscle) can create knots. Massage works by manipulating muscle tissue to break up knots and can help reduce muscle tightness and improve joint movement.
Sleep is probably one of the most important factors that can help improve your overall health and fitness. Your body produces most of the hormones needed for tissue repair during sleep so it’s vital to get enough to assist in the recovery process.
Ice, Cold Baths and Cryotherapy
Cold treatments are extremely effective for recovery as they can help cool down the body’s core temperature, reduce inflammation and promote healing in tissue that was used during the workout. The cold temperature brings increased blood to the area, which brings nutrients and oxygen to help promote healing.
Sauna or Hot Tub
The heat from a sauna or hot tub increases the body’s circulation, which removes metabolic waste products while also carrying oxygen and other nutrients necessary to help repair tissue used during the workout.
Alternating between high and low intensity workouts (muscle confusion) either daily, weekly or monthly and taking a few days off every few weeks to allow the body to rest and recover fully.
Wearing Compression clothing before and after a workout is a relatively new form of recovery treatment that may also be effective. The pressure from the tight clothing can improve circulation which will help remove metabolic waste and promote blood flow to help the tissue repair and rebuild.
Too much exercise without enough rest and recovery can lead to injury or illness, both of which could prevent your regular workouts. There are dangers to overtraining without the correct recovery periods between and If you don’t take enough R&R for your muscles to adapt this will certainly affect your ability to achieve your fitness goals.
NEVER forget to include RECOVERY into your Fitness programme!
When Things don’t go to plan
A goal is just a wish without a plan, but what happens when the plan fails?
Progressive programming and periodisation, mathematically and scientifically calculated, works extremely well in theory – but in the real world is it really a SMART Plan for success?
The specifics for how to plan periodised training and nutrition plans to achieve accurately calculated progress are vital for programming athlete’s performance schedules, However, they may not always be as vital or effective for the average person wanting to work towards specific goals.
No matter how dedicated, committed and focused you are, unless your training and diet schedule is the top priority in your life, there are always going to be circumstances that arise in which it will take a backseat. Family, work responsibilities, injury or illness – for most of us happen! And deviating from a strict plan is sometimes inevitable – Life gets in the way!
There are going to be times that your plan will need to change, adapt and re-route to an alternative path to reach your goals so you don’t get to the point of giving up on them altogether! and rather than seeing it as a failure and feeling de-motivated when you’ve missed a scheduled training session and not stuck to your plan with military precision, you need to appreciate that you haven’t failed, you’re not halting your progress, but you’re just adapting your plan to reach your goal. Obviously, if you’re skipping your programme just because you aren’t committed enough and you have no self-control or discipline, you’re not going to be making progress, however it could mean that the programme your following just isn’t the right programme for you.
Is your Training plan torture?
There also has got to be some element of enjoyment to your training to get the most from your workout and the same applies to your diet. You’ll always give more effort if you’re enjoying it and your adherence to you programme won’t continue if you’re not!
Adapting your plan may mean choosing an alternative that’s suitable for your current state. You may have low energy that day for the workout specified on your training schedule, so you may need to switch your workout accordingly or even skip it and rest – which may sometimes be a lot more beneficial than pushing through a workout that’s too intense. Hormone levels may mean that for 3 or 4 days a month you find it impossible to stick to your calorie requirements, so rather than just blowing the diet completely, just allow for extra calories on these days. You’re not failing, you’re still on track, you’ve just varied your route!
And remember, progress isn’t only tracked by the numbers – weight, reps, measurements, calories etc. it’s also about HOW GOOD YOU FEEL!