How to Recover From a Workout: Making Gains Without Strains
While we’re focused on making the most of our workouts in the moment, it’s also important to make sure we’re adequately recovering in between our gym sessions. It can be argued that what we do with the time that we’re not exercising is just as crucial as what we do when we are. Those intense workouts we engage in may be for naught if we’re not practicing proper recovery strategies. Next time you’re intentionally planning an upcoming workout, be intentional about your recovery time as well. Here are ideas to incorporate into your recovery regimen:
Give Yourself Rest Days
The first part of recovery is making sure you’re setting aside purposeful time for the process. Maybe you’re a gym rat and believe that working out daily is going to give you the most gains. Nothing could be further from the truth-our strength develops during our rest periods and not our active periods. Aim for about one to two rest days per week. After completing 8-12 weeks of intense exercise, giving yourself a week off can give your body time to fully recover. Avoid resting for more than a week as this can get you out of the habit of exercising and cause you to lose some of your gains. Most importantly, listen to your body. If you’re experiencing pain or noticing that your performance in the gym is waning, it’s time to cut back.
Catch Your Zzzzzzs
During sleep, our body is working to rebuild muscle. You’ll find that a lack of sleep will contribute to decreased performance at the gym and less endurance. Take note of where your sleep hygiene skills are at if you’re struggling to sleep for at least 8 hours a night. Are you limiting your naps to less than 30 minutes? Are you reducing electronic usage before bedtime? Are you being mindful of your caffeine and nicotine intake before bed? Do you have a bedtime routine that you follow nightly?
Exercise breaks down the proteins in your muscles. In order to rebuild these proteins and build new muscle tissue, it’s essential that you consume protein. Right after a workout, aim to consume .14-.23 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Protein can come in powder form such as whey protein powder or you can get it from foods like Greek yogurt, eggs, kefir, or tuna.
Stretch and Foam Roll
Stretching after a workout reduces your lactic acid buildup. Foam rolling assists with breaking up knots following a workout and increases your blood circulation. Try combining stretching, foam rolling, and massage for ultimate recovery.
As with any health regimen, be sure to consult with a nutritionally informed physician prior to implementing or revising your regimen.
“Health is wealth”, a mantra Jessica’s mother regularly repeated throughout her childhood. Jessica values achieving balance and wholeness in both arenas of mental and physical health. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a practicing mental health therapist, Jessica promotes healthy living, self-care, mindfulness, and above all, kindness towards self.