How To Recover Smarter From Your Workouts

By Henry Gould – Oct 1, 2018

Hope everyone is having a great start to their week! Thank you to those who made it out to the first annual “Yard Work” event in Stanley Park on Saturday. It was a huge success and would not have been possible without all the volunteers, sponsors, and of course the participants. Get ready for it to be bigger and better next year…

As anyone who participated in “Yard Work” will know, the next day was one of intense soreness. I’m sure everyone has similar struggles getting out of bed, with traps, legs, core, arms and glutes all feeling the burn. Extreme muscle exertion tears muscle fibres, which then need time to rest and recover (the body doesn’t want to be sore forever…). Obviously there are substances that can speed this recovery up – some legal, some not – but regardless it’s good to review some of the best practices for minimizing fatigue on a regular basis.

For the average person who exercises to stay healthy and in shape, there’s lots of ways to recover smarter so that you can reduce next day soreness. After all, most experts agree that with exercise, volume over time is more important that intensity. What does this mean? Basically, 5-6 workouts in a week at 70-80% of your maximum exertion will yield better results than 2-3 at 90-100% exertion.

Recovery can take a few forms, both immediately post-workout as well as the following days. Below are a few ideas to keep in mind when thinking about recovery.

Post-Workout Meal

  • The cliche of the protein shake after a hard workout isn’t just for bodybuilders. For anyone hoping to get the most out of their time in the gym, a post workout meal will unquestionably help your body recover faster and more efficiently.
  • During the workout, glycogen in the muscles (stored energy fuel) is used up in order to make your muscles do the work. It will eventually be replenished when you eat, but most studies suggest a high protein, moderate carb meal 45 minutes after a workout is a great idea to help kick start the process.

Stretching

  • If you’re like me, by the time you’ve finished your workout the last thing you want to do is stretch. It may seem like a chore, but in reality this stretching will go a long way in reducing soreness the next day.
  • During the workout, muscles are contracting and relaxing in order to lift the weights, and therefore need time to rest. Stretching helps to elongate the muscle fibers so that they don’t tighten up too much, causing pain and immobility.
  • Static, seated / lying stretching on the ground provides a stable base to move from, and forces you to dig deeper into stretches.
  • Focus on large muscle areas like the back and legs.
  • Many yoga poses provide the best stretching options – take a look and do 5 minutes worth.

Rest

  • Getting adequate rest is arguably the biggest part of any demanding fitness schedule.
  • Rest, and more importantly sleep, allow the body to repair the damage to the muscles that has occurred during the exercise.
  • At least 8 hours of sleep is a good guideline. Without enough sleep, the Central Nervous System can become fatigued, leading to exhaustion and an inability to recover in enough time to repeat your exercise the next time.

Diet

  • The post-workout meal is one element of what is hopefully a complete and holistic look at the food you eat, and how it relates to exercise performance
  • To repair torn muscle tissue, the body goes through a huge amount of synthesis in creating new tissue, eliminating waste by-product, restoring glycogen, etc etc.
  • Fueling all these processes is the food we eat. Without a balanced diet that is full of adequate nutrition, the body can fail to work as well as it should. Similar to not putting oil in a car or replacing necessary fluids, the car could begin to fail
  • Protein should make up a large part of the diet, with some expert saying 1-1.6 grams /day for every kilogram of body weight
  • Majority of carbohydrates should come from vegetables and whole grains. Refined carbohydrates (sugar, white bread, pasta) are very easily digested into glucose in the bloodstream, which can lead to an excess of blood-glucose, triggering a higher insulin response that then leads to potential fat storage
  • Depending on your activity level you may need higher carbohydrates to replenish, but overall vegetables will serve to maintain the majority of your carb needs
  • Fermented foods help to maintain healthy gut bacteria, which is necessary for proper digestion, in addition to a host of other biological processes.
  • Kimchi, kefir yogurt, saurkraut, natto, kombucha, miso are all examples of great fermented foods

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