The Ultimate Workout Recovery Guide | Stephen Coleclough PT
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The Ultimate Workout Recovery Guide

The Ultimate Workout Recovery Guide

Have you ever had a workout where your body simply refused to perform well?

Where your arms and legs felt weak or your heart rate was much higher than normal?

Even if you pushed yourself as hard as possible, you were doing less reps or failing to lift the weights you are normally comfortable with.

Chance are you didn’t give your body enough time to recover between workouts.

Your body is like a very sophisticated battery — it requires good nutrition, sleep, and time to recover after intensive exercise.

If you don’t recover properly, your workouts will be a struggle and you won’t reach your fitness.

Fortunately, help is here! This guide will explain the importance of your workout recovery and how to improve it.

Why recovery time is crucial

Before we provide you with some great workout recovery tips, here are a few reasons why recovery is so important:

Your central nervous system needs time to recover

When you are performing an intensive cardiovascular exercise or lifting weights, your body’s central nervous system (CNS) is very active.

Your brain and spinal cord will constantly be sending messages to your muscles and other parts of the body.

Your CNS will also be receiving a lot of feedback from nerves throughout the body.

This can cause a lot of stress to your CNS and cause it to become fatigued.

When it does become fatigued, every muscle in your body will be affected.

Having a fatigued CNS results in less muscle strength and reduced cardiovascular performance.

The only way to restore your CNS is with by taking time off between sessions.

Your muscles need recovery time to become stronger

Muscles also need some recovery time, particularly after an intense workout session.

When you lift heavy weights, tiny tears are made in your muscle fibres.

That’s why your strength is reduced by the end of the workout — your muscles have been damaged.

Your body needs recovery time to heal those tiny tears.

It also requires certain nutrients to heal the damage to the muscles efficiently, including protein, vitamin C and vitamin A.

Once they are healed, your muscle will be stronger and larger.

If you return to training before your muscles have fully healed you will be weaker and may struggle during the workout.

If you continue to damage muscles that are only partially repaired, you will never get any stronger and you may actually reduce muscle growth!

You will lose motivation to workout

If you don’t fully recover after a workout, your CNS and muscles will be fatigued.

That will lead to some disastrous workouts where it feels like you aren’t making any progress.

A few bad workouts and your motivation to exercise may be negatively impacted.

You will be more likely to injure yourself

Without a decent recovery period, you will be heading into the gym in a weakened and vulnerable state.

You will struggle to lift weights that you can normally handle, which increases your risk of injury!

Some useful tips for workout recovery

#1 — Get enough sleep

Your body will perform many essential tasks when you sleep including repairing tissue, clearing waste from the brain, metabolising fat, releasing hormones and much more.

The hormones released during sleep include testosterone and a variety of growth hormones.

The growth hormones are particularly important because they help your body regenerate muscle tissue.

If you don’t get at least 7 hours of sleep a night, your body will struggle to perform some essential repair tasks.

#2 — Eat nutritious food

Good nutrition is essential for a workout recovery.

You need to provide your body with the raw materials it requires to repair tissue, carry nutrients to cells and restore energy.

A diet high in fruit and vegetables is always recommended if you are working out.

If you are trying to build muscle, incorporate plenty of sources of protein like eggs, tofus, lean red meat, chicken, and tuna.

#3 — Avoid alcohol

Alcohol consumption can negatively impact your workout recovery.

That’s because the human body treats alcohol like a toxin.

Your body will focus all of its attention on processing the alcohol you have ingest — oxidising it and eliminating it from the body.

While your body is responding to the alcohol in your system, it is not very effective at repairing other types of damage, like the tears in your muscle fibres.

Essentially, its like hitting the pause button on your recovery process.

Once the alcohol has been processed, your body will go back into recovery mode.

#4 — Avoid stress

High levels of stress can really mess with your health.

When you are stressed, certain hormones are released by your body.

This occurs because your brain thinks you are in immediate physical danger when stressed or anxious about something.

One of the hormones released is called cortisol.

Unfortunately, cortisol is a catabolic hormone that will begin to break down tissue in your body.

That’s the opposite of what we want during the recovery period, when the body needs to be recuperating.

Lower your stress by meditating, listening to music, getting plenty of sleep, writing things down, and avoiding toxic people.

#5 — Avoid doing too much

Avoid perform too many strenuous physical activities during your recovery days.

It’s ok to walk around and perform general daily tasks, but avoid playing sports or lifting lots of heavy objects.

Your body really needs some time to repair and re-energise!

Thanks for reading The Ultimate Workout Recovery Guide.

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Stephen Coleclough
Stephen Coleclough

Stephen Coleclough is a personal trainer and online fitness/nutrition coach from the UK. He loves heavy squats, smashing PRs and bacon sandwiches. You can follow him on Twitter at ColecloughPT.

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