Exercise and Recovery
Why do you think that recovery after exercise is so important? Think of it this way, the pain that you feel in your muscles after an intense workout is basically a signal that your muscles have been damaged. Your body is letting you know that you have been injured and is asking you to do something about it and repair the damage. It's kind of like when you cut yourself and start bleeding. In that situation we all would act fast to stop the bleeding and heal the cut as quickly as possible, yet so many of us underestimate the seriousness of post exercise muscle soreness and the stress imposed on our body by high intensity workouts.
Getting stronger, fitter, and leaner is basically a combination of exposing your body to high stress activity such as one of my Zwows or Zshred workouts, and recovering from it. The faster you can recover, the faster and better changes can occur. Body that does not recover adequately from imposed stress can no longer improve. That is one of the most common reasons why people hit the wall and start to plateau. Their performance suffers, they're not feeling right, fatigue sets in and there is no longer any progress and positive improvement in their body composition.
Remember that our body, mind, and soul are very closely connected, so any kind of stress that you may experience even outside of the gym and your workouts, can influence your healthy and energy levels. We have to focus not only at physical recovery but also the mental and emotional healing. Stress from work, relationships, money, or the environment you live in can have a negative impact on your health and immune system. If your cortisol levels are up all the time due to a chronic anxiety and stress, your exercise performance will suffer and you won't make any progress on top of that, because again, body that is under so much stress needs sufficient recovery before you can expect any improvement.
It may also work the other way around, if you are pushing yourself way too hard every day in your workouts and failing to give your body enough time and nutrients to recover, then you are setting yourself up for overtraining. When you overtrain your body, it can result in grumpy mood, problems with sleeping, stress, depression, low appetite, overeating, constant muscle soreness, weakened immune system. Your relationship may suffer, because your body is way too tired and it's making you crazy!
Mental Activities for Recovery
- read a nice book
- listen to music
- play a music instrument
- decorate your home
- play with your pet (or a child - all I have is pets)
- have fun with your loved one
- take a bubble bath or jump into jaccuzi
- light up some candles and daydream about something positive
- do some gardening
There are plenty of relaxing activities and all you need is to dedicate 30 minutes a day for yourself and the activity that rings your bell.
Physical Activities for Recovery
- do some yoga
- stretch your body
- go to sauna
- take a long walk with your dog
- go for a swim
- dance for fun not for performance
Stretching and cool down right after your workout is absolutely important for proper recovery. Try to also fit in your schedule some light physical activities that include lot of flexibility work. These type of activities are great for active rest days. If you are following my workouts, I suggest that you include 2 days of active rest into your weekly schedule. This is exactly what we do in the ZGym.
Nutrition for Recovery
Water intake is very important for your lymphatic function, make sure that you drink at least 2.5 liters of water a day. Eat whole food that is dense in nutrients. Avoid empty calories from junk food. You should be eating plenty of veggies and enough protein with each one of your meals. Don't forget about healthy fats from nuts, avocado, or olive oil. If you are overeating or lacking of appetite, chances are that you are overtrained and you really need to reset.
Supplements for Recovery
Eating whole foods right after your super intense workout is not something that everyone feels like doing. Your body however needs protein for immediate recovery. If you don't give your body that protein right away, you will experience muscle loss which will slow down your metabolism, and prevent you from further fat loss. I personally can't eat anything solid for at least an hour after my workout, so I decided to use a supplement called Glumatic (I have not been sponsored by this product or the company in any way) that helps with fast muscle recovery. Protein shakes are also a great post exercise recovery drinks. I like the Glumatic because it has only the glutamine that my body needs and no calories. This way I have my recovery drink right after my workout and an actual meal within 2 hours.
I hope I have convinced you about the importance of recovery, and maybe answered some of your questions. Like why am I not seeing any progress… You have an entire weekend ahead of you so make the best out of it and if you feel like you need to take a break, just do it. Remember, fast recovery equals better results and improvement in your body composition.
Have a great weekend!