Recovery is super important. I’ve been working out for a long time but until recently my recovery was not optimal. It was OK but it wasn’t as good as it could be.
(By the way, I’m not a doctor and none of this is medical advice. Don’t do anything that your doctor doesn’t give you clearance for.)
What Happens if You Don’t Recover Optimally
Any type of workout creates a stress. That stress has to be recovered from before you see an increase in performance.
If you never give yourself a chance to fully recover between workouts you will find your performance quality decreasing.
Some people call that “over training”. The ideal combination is: workout causes stress – you recover from stress and get stronger – your performance improves.
What is Optimal Recovery?
I give credit to Mark Rippetoe and his team for doing the studies necessary to find the absolute best way to recover from hard workouts or sports practice.
You can find this info in their book: Practical Programming For Strength Training. I downloaded the kindle version (because it’s way cheaper) and just read it on my phone. I found out about this book from Starting Strength.
We all know that lack of sleep sucks. It leads to decreased motivation and performance by the athlete.
Sleep is when we secrete testosterone and growth hormone. If you lack sleep you will have less testosterone. 100% scientific fact. We need those hormones for recovery.
So how many hours do we need?
Mom was right, for athletes who are training hard we need 8 hours of sleep. You have to take into account that it takes 30 mins or so to fall asleep. That means you should add that time to the 8 hours.
If I can’t get 8 hours then I’ll try to sneak a nap in the middle of the day.
I work as a personal trainer and I have to stress to all of my clients: drink water! Especially if you are: large, an athlete, and move around a lot.
The amount of fluids you need to drink will not happen by accident. You need to drink at least 5 Liters if you are a serious athlete.
That’s what I shoot for. Like 5L for myself a 200lb athlete. This isn’t medical advice and you have to figure it out for yourself with experimentation.
All fluids you take in count toward the total, even if it’s coffee or coke.
Protein synthesis is how new muscle is built. We need protein for that. If you are working out a lot you are turning over a lot of protein.
A good rule of thumb I use is 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. This is for men. Women may require less protein. My girlfriend weighs 145lbs and works out 4x per week. She gets about 100g of protein per day.
You can google what you eat in a daily basis and find out how much protein you are getting. If you aren’t getting enough you can drink protein shakes or just drink whole milk.
4. Energy = Carbohydrates or Fats
When you workout you use the energy by burning carbohydrates or fats. So obviously you need to take these in in order to replenish the fuel.
How much carbohydrates/fats do you need? Honestly everyone is different and it requires some experimentation. In general on the days you are really active you need more and when you aren’t as active you can eat less.
If you are gaining too much fat then you can cut down your carbs a bit. You have to try it on yourself and see how you feel.
The main carbs I consume are rice and oatmeal.
5. Vitamins and Minerals
Here is what I take on a daily basis.
If you have the money just take a few vitamins and minerals. A special note here is that: most women in North America are deficient in calcium and iron.
You need optimal levels of calcium and iron for good sports performance. Even a mild iron deficiency can have a big negative impact on your ability to recover.
You can ask your doctor to check these when you get your blood test.
6. Omega 3
Omega 3 and 6 are not made by your body and they are critical to recovery and immune function. Omega 6 we got a lot of it in our diets.
The main one is Omega 3, that’s what we want to supplement with. It has really helped raise my HDL cholesterol levels. I take large amounts of omega 3 every day.
People that are serious about improving will make time for proper recovery. This means sleeping 8 hours, staying hydrated, eating enough protein, eating enough carbohydrates or fats, and supplementing with vitamins and fatty acids.
I realized that I wasn’t eating enough protein and I wasn’t drinking enough water. I work as a personal trainer so I am very active all day.
Once I increased my protein intake by eating more and drinking milk my workouts have been getting better and better. I also just feel good when I am well rested, well fed, and hydrated.
If you have any questions leave a comment below and I would be happy to answer. Take care!