The quality of the athletic result of all of our hard work is mostly determined in the 22 hours/day we aren’t training rather than the 2 that we are. Here are 4 tips to help optimize your recovery:
- Sleep – When it comes to recovery, nothing beats sleep. There is no substitute for a good night’s sleep. Athlete burnout can often be attributed more to under-recovery than over-training. To maximize one’s sleeping hours, it is important to establish a good sleep routine and create a good environment for sleep. See sleep guidelines below.
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- Fuel for Recovery – To optimally protect your muscles following exercise, be sure to ingest a protein and carbohydrate supplement within 30 minutes of workout completion. As a general guideline, to enhance protein synthesis (muscle building), ingest 20-25g of protein and 40-50 g of carbohydrates in your post-workout snack.
It is important to include energy sources of carbohydrates, fats, and protein at every meal and snack. Young athletes tend to recover with supplements and snacks composed solely of carbohydrates. Carbs are an important part of the recovery process but they aren’t the whole answer.
Whenever possible, eat whole foods instead of supplements. The great benefit of supplements is that they are convenient. When convenience matters most, it is ok to rely of your carb-protein-electrolyte supplement to tide you over between practice and your post-exercise meal.
- Remove Waste– The days of taking a cold tub or icing down tired muscles after a workout are over. Taking a cold shower may help down-regulate your nervous system but icing muscles slows waste removal and delays the inflammation process. The body relies on blood flow and muscle contraction to get rid of unwanted waste after a training session. Steady state, low intensity exercise is the best way to enhance peripheral blood flow, remove waste and speed the passing of acute muscle inflammation after a tough session. In a pinch, an alternative method of active recovery is using a muscle stimulation machine; like a compex or marc pro.
4. Hydrate for Recovery – Water is the second most important substrate (oxygen is first) to maintaining human life. It is involved in all relevant cellular reactions. All athletes should drink 2-4 litres of water/day. Surrounding intense workouts, competitions or practices, it is advisable to sprinkle some sea salt or electrolytes in your water to replace what the body sweats out. Replace each pound of body weight you lose during exercise with 500 ml of water.