Lifting weights and eating right isn’t the only thing that’s required for a bigger, better and a stronger body. You may not realize it, but recovering from your workouts is just as important, if not more. If you’re not recovering properly between your workouts, you can miss out on a lot of potential gains, at best and at worst, seriously injure yourself. Don’t get me wrong, though, I’m not telling you to not give it your all in the gym and just do pansy workouts. But if you’re going hard, your recovery should be top notch!
The best and most natural way to recover. Sleep is when your body heals, repairs and grows. This is when the majority of growth hormone is released, the hormone responsible for growth and healing. If you’re not getting at least 8 hours of good quality sleep every single night, you’re seriously missing out. Your body can go into chronic fatigue mode and pretty soon you will be burnt out. Don’t think you can just catch up on all that sleep on the weekend either because that will just leave you feeling worse off and really mess up your schedule. Do whatever it takes to at least get 8 hours every night, no matter what.
You can live some time without food but without water, you won’t last very long. If your water intake is low, your body is dehydrated and recovering your aching muscles will be the least of its worries, it’s going to use all the precious little water that it has to just focus on surviving. The body also uses water to transport nutrients throughout the body and to help flush out toxins. Ensure that you are drinking enough water on a daily basis, throughout the day, not just around your workouts and adjust your intake according to how much you sweat.
Foam rolling is a great way to loosen up tight muscles. It’s the best way to give yourself a massage without having to twist and bend in awkward positions. There’s no such thing as too much foam rolling so whenever you get the time, start rolling. Places like the quads, hips and lower back tend to tighten up a lot more so make sure to foam roll in those places often. Buy a foam roller to keep at home and perform it for 30-60 minutes (or more) daily.
For some reason, stretching seems to have become old fashioned. You just don’t see it that often anymore but it works just as well for recovery as it did back in the day. Apart from loosening up tight muscles, stretching also improves your flexibility and mobility which can help you engage even more muscles, allowing for a better workout and eventually, more gains. Make sure to stretch after a workout and not immediately before as it can weaken your muscles (temporarily) and can cause injuries. Before bed is also a great time to stretch as it can help you sleep more comfortably and will help to avoid things such as leg/back cramps and restless leg syndrome.
This should go without saying but if you are not getting the nutrients that your body needs, your body just will not recover properly. Make sure that you are eating enough calories, protein, vitamins and minerals on a daily basis to ensure proper recovery. Eat lots of whole foods such as meats, complex carbs, fruits and vegetables.