Understanding exercise recoveryCredit: iStock photo
Recently, I started on a training program with a personal trainer.
I embarked on this physical training program in order to achieve a few fitness goals I set out for myself, including weight loss, toning, and gaining muscle strength.
After my second session with the personal trainer, I realized that exercise recovery was just as important as the exercise routines themselves.
I also came to understand that a post-workout recovery plan involves a few post-exercise steps whic are important for any exercise program, regardless of the exercise intensity, your fitness level, or the type of physical activity in which you engage.
Why is Exercise Recovery Important?
Exercise recovery is important for the general wellbeing of your body as well as the fitness goals that you set for yourself. This is because a post-workout recovery allows your body to build and repair muscle.
Credit: iStock photoDuring intense workouts, your body systems and fuel stores are overloaded and pushed to the limits. Muscle fatigue sets in and fitness performance levels start deteriorating. Your body needs to adapt to the training stress. Securing a good post-workout exercise recovery strategy will go a long way in helping you reduce fatigue.
For a new fitness enthusiast like myself, who has not been fit for most of his life, exercise recovery is even more important. I needed to figure out some exercise recovery strategies and ways to help my body recover more quickly after the intense workouts at the gym.
After-Exercise Recovery Tips
I decided to research on post-workout recovery tips for myself. After all, I am determined to commit myself to completing this physical fitness program with my trainer - and not look at the experience as a military boot camp!
I found some after-exercise recovery tips that seem useful and I am aiming to apply them to my own fitness routine. The following tips are the ones best recommended by fitness experts.
Best Ways to Recover Quickly from an Intense Workout
Learn to Cool Down
Credit: Flickr: Gabriel RobledoCooling down just means slowing down after your exercise, though not completely stopping. After your intense exercise, spend 5 to 10 minutes cooling down by moving around at a very low intensity.
This will aid in removing lactic acid that builds up in your muscles. This also helps reduce muscles stiffness.
I found that walking around during this period of cooling down, and sipping small sips of water really helped. As suggested by my trainer, I also took fuller and deeper breaths, held these breaths for about 3 seconds and then exhaled slowly. This helped me from wanting to faint!
The cool down process is important to include in your fitness routine because it keeps the blood circulating. This will in turn help prevent blood pooling and even in removing some of the waste products surging through the muscles after a workout.
Cooling down will also transport oxygen and nutrients, which are required by the muscles, ligaments and tendons to recover efficiently after a strenous weight training or fitness routine.
Replacing Your Fluids by Hydrating
Hydration is probably the most important post-workout recovery step. During your intense workouts, a lot of fluid is lost.
Hydrating after exercise is a great way to boost your recovery time. Water acts as a transfer of nutrients throughout the body. Hydrating yourself with lots of water will improve in your recovery process. Remember - you will lose lots of water through sweat during a workout.
I found that light stretching after a workout really does help. The muscles I have fatigued during the workout are still in their 'tense' stage - and gentle stretching helps with blood circulation to the muscles under stress.
Stretching also restores balance throughout your muscle families. During a workout, certain muscles get worked out more than others - resulting in those muscle groups being tighter than the rest. Stretching helps restore a certain amount of equilibrium throughout the muscle groups and will help quicken the exercise recovery process.
Take Time to Rest
Rest and recovery go hand in hand.
Give yourself time to recover after a workout. Time is one of the most important ways for the body to heal from stress, injury or illness.
Resting allows your body to repair itself and at its own natural pace. Doing nothing, though boring, might be the best thing you can do to help quicken recovery. This includes getting lots of sleep on the days where you schedule intense workouts.
What about Post-Workout Protein?
In my research, I found that post-workout protein intake plays a vital role in the success of post-workout recovery. According to the American College of Sports Medicine,
The additional protein may be needed in order to promote muscle adaptation during recovery from exercise in several ways:
- Aiding in the repair of exercise-induced damage to muscle fibers.
- Promoting training-induced adaptations in muscle fibers (e.g., synthesis of new proteins that are involved in energy production and/or force generation).
- Facilitating the replenishment of depleted energy stores.
I even read that chocolate milk can boost post-workout recovery and is an excellent source of post-workout protein.
Credit: iStock photoIn a study, it was mentioned that drinking plain water replaces loss of sweat during a workout. But chocolate milk in addition provides carbohydrate replenishments to your fatigued muscles, which in turn can be metabolized.There's nothing to metabolize in plain water.
The high carbs and protein in milk made for a highly effective recovery drink.
I'm going to have many more opportunities to apply the exercise recovery tips I just provided. They will surely be helpful as I do my best to stick to my fitness plan and move ahead to achieve my fitness goals.
I wish you the very best too as you work towards yours.
Now, back to the gym.