If you think training only is what gets you to be a top performance athlete, then think again!
The most important factor that must be taken into consideration is RECOVERY. What happens outside the gym is what makes you stronger, better and more energized for your next day workout. If you beat yourself at the gym and pushed yourself to failure, you won’t see results without proper recovery, because muscles don’t grow at the gym; they grow after.
Let me explain what happens when you workout.
When you start lifting weights, your muscle fibers breaks down through a process called catabolism. Your body then begins to re-build those muscle tissue (recovery) and that’s where your job comes in to help your body with recovery.
You need to put in mind that Rest is important as Reps. If you train everyday with no rest, this could easily lead to Over training. which can mean decreased performance, elevated blood pressure, decreased immunity, disturbed sleep, and more. In which the damage you do to your body accumulates over time so what your body does is revert its energy to repairing the effects of the damage rather than building new muscle tissue.
A minimum of 48 hours of rest is optimal to allow recovery and prevent injury.
For years the most important meal of the day has been said to be breakfast, but I believe that to be wrong. Your post-workout nutrition just may be more important to you than breakfast.
Recovery must include:
• Replenishing the muscle and liver glycogen stores
• Consuming protein to assist with muscle repair
• Restoring fluid lost in sweat
• Supporting the immune system to handle the damage
• Get more sleep
Now let’s get into the post-workout Nutrition.
Proteins and carbs that you ingest prior to the workout will still be circulating in the body afterward. For this reason, choose your foods wisely. Consume your meals roughly two hours prior to your workout to avoid digestive issues or cramps.
Consuming carbohydrates after training is critical in replenishing glycogen stores and initiating muscle glycogen synthesis. Glycogen (the storage form of carbohydrates) is the primary fuel your muscles use for energy production; therefore, optimizing glycogen stores is important and it’s one of the reasons energy levels decrease when reducing carbs.
Include a source of potassium in your post-workout meal. Your potassium reserves will inevitably be sapped from an intense workout session. Potassium, among other nutrients like sodium and calcium, is a key mineral which plays a role in muscular energy. Bananas or potatoes are good potassium sources.
Once the recovery phase begins the catabolic processes reduce while anabolic processes increase and continue on for at least 24 hours after training. The ingestion of essential amino acids from quality protein sources has been shown to help with the muscle-building process. Aim for 20-30 grams of protein after each workout depending on your body weight within the first hour post exercise. Whey protein is the most popular protein supplements, and for good reason: It’s convenient, easy to mix, and it offers a rapid absorption rate that’s perfect after a tough training session. Invest in quality whey isolate to see a difference.
Exercising while dehydrated can cause greater damage to muscles and reduce the body’s ability to repair itself. In order to rectify this deficit an athlete should aim to consume 125-150% of the estimated fluid lost over a four to six hour period post exercise.
Immune System recovery
Intensive training can suppress the immune system. This suppression occurs while training is in progress and can continue to affect the efficiency of the immune system for hours afterward. This is obviously a concern for athletes as these hours of decreased immune function could allow an athlete to pick up an infection. Vitamins C and E, zinc and glutamine have all been touted to aid in the protection and support of the immune system.
Glycogen plays a role in the recovery of the immune system according to research. If adequate glycogen stores are maintained pre and post exercise that this can reduce the disturbance of immune system markers as the consumption of carbohydrates can help reduce the bodies stress hormone response to exercise.
While you sleep, amazing things are taking place in your body. Optimal sleep is essential for anyone who exercises regularly. During sleep, your body produces Growth Hormone (GH) which is largely responsible for tissue growth and repair. Sleep is also prime time for the body to undergo protein synthesis, so getting adequate sleep after a tough workout might make for stronger muscles and better endurance.
The bottom line
There’s no magic formula for optimal days of rest. The most important thing you can do to recovery quickly is to listen to your body. If you are feeling tired, sore or notice decreased performance you may need more recovery time or a break from training altogether.
Take your fitness level, intensity, frequency, and duration of activity into account, and look for signs that the body needs a break, like chronic muscle or joint soreness and impaired physical performance. Be sure to recognize the difference between pain and soreness, and most of all, don’t be afraid to take some time off.