Recovery is by far the most neglected element in Fitness. Most people can at least go to the gym and eat food, in fact - most of the time those two things are done way too enthusiastically. As it turns out, the one thing that enthusiasm cannot help you with is staying away from the gym all together so you can rest. It's when we're resting, outside of the gym, that our bodies repair, recover and adapt to the stimulus we've provided them in the gym. So, ask yourself this; Do you wish to spend more timing creating potential for adaptation or more time actually adapting? See below for 3 Factors to understand about recovery while in pursuit of your fitness goals.
1. Sleeping Well
Sleeping well is paramount. This doesn't mean sleeping longer, it means increasing the quality of your sleep. How do you do this? The simple answer; go to bed earlier... The longer you stay awake while it's dark outside (taking in artificial light) the worse it is for the hormones that are released during sleep (like Melatonin and Growth Hormone), and the more broken your sleep patterns may be. Try to go to bed no later than 10-11pm and reduce the amount of white light you receive during the evening (TV + Computer + Phone Screens). White Light tells your brain to stay awake instead of prepare for sleep. Opt for white/blue light filters on screens if you must use screens late at night. The entire body repairs and recovers during sleep so it's important to optimise it as much as possible!
2. Less is More
The more you train the more you put your body under metabolic, muscular and Nervous System Stress - which all takes time to recover and work optimally again. So, keeping away from the gym 2-3 days per week is vital for the prevention of a stress surplus which can, and will, prevent progress in all of your goals. This is what is commonly described as Over-Training, or what is more clearly described as Under Resting. This will make more sense to you once you are confident you are training very effectively. Click here for more info on Effective Training for Bodybuilding.
3. Recovery While Training
Rest/ Recovery periods are manipulated within a training session to alter what is known as 'Intensity' - namely the Challenge factor for our Muscles and Nervous System during a workout. The shorter the Rest period the more 'Challenging' the exercise will be because our muscles have had less time to Recover. However, this is what we want within a workout, as it will reduce the overall time we spend in the gym and create more potential for muscular Adaptation in less time. The longer we spend training the more Stress Hormone will be released which can be detrimental to both building muscle and fat loss. Keep workouts under an hour each session and you'll help prevent unwanted excess Stress Hormone release, while increasing intensity at the same time, which is the perfect combo.
4. Active Recovery
Active people recover faster than inactive people. Fact. When we're acknowledging Recovery as a vital component of training, we must also acknowledge it as an active activity - rather than passive. Gone are the days where lying on the sofa all day meant effectively recovering. While totally sedentary rest might be beneficial in some instances, for the most part active recovery is suitable for efficient recovery of any given training system. What this means is not re-stimulating the body system with further intense training, but it's more about increasing blood flow and nutrient delivery to the entire body in general. Active recovery exercise is low intensity, low stimulus, longer duration exercise. A targeted and effective diet is absolutely necessary, but active recovery will help make the absolute most out of the nutrient surplus you should be eating. This could mean going for a long walk, casual bike ride or run or any other form of LISS (Low Intensity Steady State) cardiovascular exercise.
Start taking your recovery seriously and your adaptations will start getting serious.
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