24 December 2016

Recover like a boss

What you need to know:

  • Take recovery seriously to improve results in the gym
  • What you do straight after your workout affects recovery
  • Improve your sleep and reap the rewards


How important is recovery?  No matter how hard you work in the gym, recovery is primarily where results are gained, your body needs to recover and then adapt to training as you rest.

Improving recovery means a decrease in recovery time, so you get to workout more often and have more in the tank when you hit the gym.

The stronger you get and the more weight you lift, the more your body will need to recover from the increased demands of training.  This becomes more important as you age! Older guys, take note, these tips are for you!


Post workout - a crucial time for recovery 

What you do straight after a workout can make a huge difference as to how you feel for the rest of the day and importantly how you feel in your next training session.  This is the best place to start if you’re looking to access a new level at the gym.

Massage within 10 minutes of working out has been shown to decrease recovery time.  Whilst it would be nice to get a professional sports massage after every workout for the majority of us it’s highly impractical.  You can, however, get on the foam roller straight after your session to improve blood flow to tired muscles. You won’t regret trying this!

Follow this up with a stretch!  This is the ideal time to go for a deep stretch as you’re fully warm and can push to increase range of motion without affecting your workout.

Getting post workout nutrition right can improve recovery time substantially, while your muscle glycogen stores will replenish fully over 24hours, if you’ve got another workout or a fairly active job, you’ll want to be back on your game sooner.  Protein synthesis post workout can also be optimised by ingesting high quality protein straight after working out.  A recovery shake with 1:1 ratio of protein to carborhydrates will do both (xg per kg of bodyweight).  Add  5g of leucine, 10g glutamine and 3-5g of creatine for maximum impact.


Temperature control

Infra red saunas have been shown to significantly improve recovery - with deeper heat penetration than a regular sauna - if you have access to one, use it!  I’d recommend getting 20 minutes in one on a rest day after a stretching session.

Ice baths on the other hand have been debunked. Whilst they may make you feel better by decreasing muscle soreness (DOMs), the way they do this is actually to impede recovery, so while you feel ready to go again, you’ll have wasted the effort of working out.



All of the above is really adding to what should be your number 1 priority: sleep.  In an ideal world, waking up naturally without an alarm clock would be perfect in allowing you to get as much sleep as you needed.  With modern life getting in the way, aim for 8 hours and have at least one night a week waking without an alarm.  To Maximise your recovery from sleep take a Zinc and Magnesium supplement before bed.

Other tips to improve sleep quality: black out blind, for absolute darkness while you sleep, surprisingly effective! Use a sleep app to track what conditions increase or decrease your sleep quality.

Napping - this is as much about stress reduction as it is sleep.  Taking time out of your day to switch off, it doesn’t matter if you don’t fall asleep (it can take practice before you will), the time spent relaxing/switched off will still benefit.  A twenty minute nap is ideal to leave you refreshed.


Soft tissue treatment

Don’t wait to get a pull or strain to get some sports therapy!  You know that sore joint that bugs you?  Get treatment and set some time aside to work on tightnesses yourself.  Treat rest days as an opportunity to do this, free up some movement and perform better for it. Motion is lotion.


The last word

We can all do something better.  Some of these tips don't take long, some are more involved.  The more you can do the more you difference you will see.  If you only change one thing you’ll be moving forward.


Coach Dom Kinsey

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