On this week’s episode of 20 Minute Fitness we delve into the best ways to recover from your workouts. Recovery is a crucial part of leading a healthy lifestyle. While also being one that is often overlooked.
We get into the what are the key components of a good recovery routine. From sleep to food to hydration. Along with breaking down what is the best time to consume protein, carbs, and different types of sports drinks. Also, learn about when is the best cases to use ice over heat. And find out if ice baths are hurting more than helping your performance.
Sleep is such a powerful fatigue fighter and recovery method. It gives you more than just rest; it helps your nervous system and replenishes your energy stores. Naturally, the deeper and better you sleep, the better you help restore your nervous system.
That’s important because if you don’t let your central nervous system (CNS) recuperate. Your fitness suffers since your CNS is responsible for triggering muscle contractions, reaction time, and response to pain. You can start overloading your body on a larger scale.
What’s more, your endocrine system and hormone profile are working while you’re sleeping. “These are really important because they secrete hormones, like cortisol and testosterone, that produce protein synthesis,” Says Dr. Little a performance specialist at MJP where he coaches athletes training for the NFL Combine, NFL, and MLB.
For example, after a couple days of being under-recovered, your testosterone is going to drop. That affects how much muscle you can gain.
As for meals before bed, you have to be careful. “If you eat a huge meal then just go right to bed, you’re giving your body the nutrients and calories it needs. But, if you eat that huge meal too close to when you fall asleep, your body’s going to be focused on digesting than it is on recovering,” Little says. Try to get your meal in one to two hours before bed.
“You might need a supplement with some melatonin (5 mg),” Little says. The other supplement strategy is to drink an amino acid or a whey protein shake right before bed. This will give your body what it needs to immediately begin to rebuild damaged muscle from training.
Food & Hydration
Second only to sleep when it comes to the recovery is food. So we are going to go over some of the basic tips that will help the most when it comes to recovery effectively and quickly after a workout. To begin with rehydrating should begin soon after finishing your training session or event.
Most of these drinks are isotonic, which makes them perfect for intra-workout and means they contain between 4g and 8g of sugar per 100ml. Also, they have a similar osmotic pressure to bodily fluids.
As a result, the isotonic drink is taken up taken up by the body quickly, making them perfect for endurance sports. On the negative side, some people find them too sugary and can cause GI distress/bloatedness. So be sure to find one that works well for you.
Coconut water is packed with potassium and has fewer calories than a traditional sports drink. Some coconut water producers also don’t add any additional sugar, relying on its natural sugar only. But coconut water only boasts about 30 mg of sodium per serving compared to sports drinks.
If you’re looking for something other than water to keep hydrated with, you can swap in a few glasses of coconut water. For light workouts lasting less than an hour, you can also drink coconut water for rehydration.
Protein Shake vs BCAA
If you have been doing a heavy gym session or are primarily concerned about muscle repair and adaptation, kick-starting that process with a protein-based recovery drink is a great idea.
Unfortunately, many of these drinks are not great for rehydration and often neglect electrolyte properties. However, BCAA and protein-based drinks can be a great way to get the nutrients your starving body needs post-workout. Combine with carbs to increase the uptake and you have a great option.
According to experts, it is no longer needed by people who are consuming sufficient amounts of protein. If you meet the 1.5gram per kilogram requirement, you may no longer need an additional intake of BCAA supplement.
But of course, this isn’t always the case. There are instances when the body needs more amino acids. This is true for athletes and bodybuilders. According to studies, branched chain amino acids aid in protein synthesis by increasing the cellular capacity for protein synthesis.That means, on a cellular level, your body has an increased capacity to repair itself.
Protein and the Anabolic Window:
Early studies about the anabolic window often used subjects in a fasted state. This was to look at the effects of nutrient timing on changes in body composition, strength, and muscle size. Because fasting itself will put your body in a catabolic state, eating immediately after a workout is crucial for promoting muscle protein synthesis and glycogen storage.
When You Actually Need Protein
But unless you train at 5 a.m. on an empty stomach, there’s less urgency when it comes to consuming your post-workout meal. Eating as few as 20 grams of protein as part of your pre-workout meal can significantly elevate the delivery of amino acids to your muscles for up to 2-3 hours post-workout.
So even if you delay your post-workout meal for a couple hours, your body is still using the amino acids from your pre-workout meal to stimulate maximal growth and recovery.
If your goal is maximizing rates of muscle gain, current findings support the broad objective of meeting total daily protein and carbohydrate needs.So, plan your meals so that you consume 25-30 grams of protein every few hours. While also consuming adequate amounts of carbs throughout the day to keep your energy levels high in the gym.
To restore muscle glycogen and promote protein synthesis, consume 0.8g per kg of body weight of carbohydrate and 0.2g per kg of body weight of protein within 30 minutes of finishing exercise. For a 70kg or 154lb athlete, this would be 56g of carbohydrate and 14g of protein.
Continue your recovery nutrition two to three hours post-exercise by eating a whole foods meal. This meal should contain a combination of carbohydrate, about 20g of protein and some fat. Dividing daily protein intake into four or more 20g meals has been shown to have a greater stimulus on protein synthesis.
Rather than two big meals with 40g protein per meal or 8 smaller meals with 10g per meal. A 20g feeding of protein is the sweet spot to maximally stimulate muscle protein synthesis.
Walk or Start off With Low Intensity
Walk gently for three to five minutes. It’s actually the ideal low-intensity activity to ease your body out of sitting mode into workout mode. The motion of walking takes the muscles, tendons, and joints. This brings up the temperature of the muscles and the core.
Also, it enhances the blood flow to all the muscles you’ll need for running and sends your brain the message that it’s time to go. Walking is especially helpful for runners who are coming back after an injury.
Static stretching, where you hold a muscle in an elongated, fixed position for 30 seconds or more, is now discouraged pre-workout. It’s been linked to injury.
However, dynamic stretching, which uses controlled leg movements to improve range of motion, loosens up muscles and increases heart rate, body temperature, and blood flow to help you run more efficiently.
Cool Down Routine
Hit the Bike Right After Doing Anything:
Whether you’re coming off strength training, a HIIT session a bit of easy cardio will help loosen muscles and limit lactic acid buildup.
Whether it’s on a spin bike at the gym or a real bike outdoors, the trick is just to make sure the resistance is low. This isn’t a workout; it’s a way to get motion into your body and your heart rate up. And if a bike isn’t accessible, walking is a perfectly acceptable alternative. Just make sure to move at a decent clip.
Include a Cooldown Phase:
For best results, cool-down stretches should be passive, so you’ll hold them for a while. Never do less than 10 seconds on any passive stretch. As a rule of thumb aim for six to eight deep breaths, she says.
Foam rolling is a fairly effective way to increase a muscle’s range of motion in the short term and decrease soreness when done daily. Current research supports rolling for two one-minute segments per muscle group every day following a tough workout or a hard race.
Change out of wet clothes immediately:
Wet clothing can chill you down too quickly after a run. By putting on dry garments, you keep your muscles warm, which promotes circulation that aids recovery. Good blood flow brings much-needed nutrients to depleted muscles and carries metabolic waste away, exactly what you want following a run. Even on a hot summer day, slipping into sweatpants after a long run feels great!
Use Easy Active Recovery Sessions:
Walking is the best thing you can do to spark recovery and protect you from future injuries. Sometimes the simplest of methods can produce the most game-changing results. The problem most people have with the concept of active recovery is not the theory, but rather the execution. If you’re devoted to fitness and lifting, it’s damn hard to turn off that switch when every fiber of your being is telling you to grind out another high-intensity workout.
If your “recovery session” started out as a walk on the treadmill and turned into a full-on interval sprint session with the hamster wheel jacked up to 12.5 mph at an incline of 4%, then you know what we’re talking about. More is always better, right? Well, not when it comes to tissue and central nervous system regeneration.
Ice baths have been a mainstay of post-workout recovery for quite some time—which is a problem, for two main reasons. First, a study last year at the English Institute of Sport measured various markers of physiological stress before. Up to 72 hours after cold-water immersion and found no positive improvement over those who didn’t use an ice bath. Meaning they didn’t promote recovery at all. More troubling, that same study showed that ice baths may actually hinder recovery.
Ice blunts inflammation—great for treating an injury. But certain types of inflammation are important for recovery’s repair and adaptation processes. In terms of decreasing inflammation, ice is indiscriminate. While massage may blunt only the right types of inflammation, ice hits them all. Remember, recovery is all about your muscles repairing themselves. Because of this, the study’s author, Jonathan Leeder, Ph.D., recommends using an ice bath only in a competition scenario. This is when the feel-good factor is more important than any training gains. During training, however, ice baths should be avoided.
To reduce soreness, take a long, relaxing soak in a warm bath. But since bath time at work isn’t a viable option, try using a heating pad. Heat helps warm our muscles, increasing blood flow to the area. Heating pads ease muscle soreness by applying low heat, directly to the source of pain. Leave on for about 20 minutes, and be sure to place a towel between the pad and skin to avoid potential burns.
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