Article – Top 6 Ways to Maximize Your Body’s Recovery from Exercise
If you are a client of BodyBasics, you know that each month we’ve been posting fun challenges to get us all thinking and doing more towards improving our health and fitness. An oft overlooked element of our exercise plans is recovery. Most of us understand the importance of workouts each week and our challenges have all related to that also. However, a good many of you will benefit from a refresher on what to do before and after your workouts to recover faster. In this article my aim is to provide you some solid and evidence-based strategies for enhancing your recovery from exercise. The value to you will be less soreness and stronger muscles if you implement these approaches into your daily schedule. And, if you are a client, check out our new challenge in house involving one very important ingredient of recovery.
- Get Your ZZZs
Optimum recovery begins with adequate sleep. With the invention of light bulbs and carrying forward into our current Information Age represented by every size electronic device you can think of, our society has adapted to sleeping less. Whereas before day and night were determined by the sun and moon and some dimly flickering candles or gas lamps, now our days can extend well beyond sun down with even more radiance than that coming from the sun. As a result, many of us delay going to sleep. Optimal for recovery is 7 – 9 hours per night. Some of you will find that you need closer to the 7 and others will want all 9. Personally, I experience greater need based on the intensity of my life. If stressors are higher I tend toward more sleep. On average my body seems to do great around 7.5 to 8 hours each night. You’ll be able to determine what is ideal for you by noting how you feel when you wake up. If you’re groggy and seeking some kind of pick me up to start your day, you can probably stand to get another 30 minutes of sleep. Plan accordingly the next night and continue this process until you are waking up without a fog.
- Eat Your Protein
Protein is a very important macronutrient because it is composed of amino acids. For those that do not know amino acids are used in every cell in your body to keep them alive. Everyday cells are dying off and others are being produced. If your intake of protein is inadequate more cells are dying than being reproduced leading to slower recovery from the stress of exercise. Remember, when you exercise you are creating damage. Your ability to recover from the damage of exercise is what makes you stronger. So, what is adequate? This depends on how much stress you’re under. If you are exercising with intention to get stronger, thus heavier weights, you need more protein than someone who is lifting lighter. A general and largely accepted rule of thumb is 1.6 – 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day. What does that look like? Just do this. Divide your total bodyweight by 2.2 and then multiply that result by both1.6 and 1.8 to get your recommended protein range per day. Now if you are really going at it, a protein intake as high as 2.0 grams per kilogram of bodyweight per day is preferred. Remember, protein is needed to provide the amino acids required for healing damaged cells. As it relates to exercise and recovery specifically you will do your body the most good by positioning a good 20 – 30 grams of protein pre-workout as well as post-workout. It is also very important to start each day with another solid 20-30 grams of protein at breakfast and to finish your day with the same goal as well.
- Stay Hydrated
Put simply, our muscle tissues are composed of approximately 75% water. If we are not staying hydrated we are impacting our body’s ability to repair damaged tissue because proper hydration is needed for digestion of our foods. If we are eating great amounts of protein and other wonderful foods but short on the intake of fluids, nutrients cannot be absorbed properly. Also, our cells need adequate levels of fluids at all times or they will die. So for starters, check the color of your urine. If it is heading to the darker side of yellow, drink more water. As a general rule, consume about 8 ounces every 10 to 20 minutes you are exercising. Increase this if you are really sweating to be sure you are getting enough.
- Easy on the Alcohol
Alcohol can impact your ability to recover in numerous ways. For starters, alcohol is a diuretic so it can impede your ability to stay hydrated. Second the synthesis of alcohol takes precedence over the production of glycogen. Given that our muscle tissues thrive on glycogen this impartiality is not a good thing. It means we will have less energy to put out into our next workout thus impeding our ability to recover from one session to the next. Alcohol consumption can also increase our blood pressure causing the heart to work harder and therefore take oxygen and simply rest away from our ability to rejuvenate our bodies. My reading showed that as long as you consume a good blend of protein and carbohydrates post-workout before going right to alcohol you will minimize some of these outcomes. You will not eliminate them but you will decrease the detrimental effects quite a bit. However, once you begin to go in excess of 1-2 drinks female and 2-3 male, your ability to recover will become increasingly compromised.
- Foam Roll or Get a Massage
Another great way to improve your recovery is through massage. The act of applying various types of pressure can improve joint range of motion thus preventing you from hobbling around after a particularly challenging workout. Also, there is some evidence to support that massage can also improve recovery by decreasing inflammation in the body and also by increasing the production of mitochondria. In the study researchers took 11 young, healthy men through a very strenuous workout. The men were each given a Swedish style massage post-exercise to only one of their thighs for about 10 minutes. Then the researchers took muscle biopsies from each of their thighs. They determined that the massaged side had statistically significant decreases in inflammation markers as well as improvements increased mitochondrial production.
- Feeling Really Crazy? Cold Plunge Should Do The Trick
Okay, this one is for the die-hards who really want to maximize recovery and kind of like pain. If you’re still reading, here is why sitting in ice cold water for 10 to 20 minutes can improve your ability to recovery from bouts of intense exercise. Simply, when we exercise our bodies keep us going by breaking down carbohydrates within our muscles, glycogen, into smaller units that our cells can readily use called ATP, or adenosine triphosphate for the science minded. As our bodies break down carbohydrates lactic acid is also produced as a by-product of the chemical process. It is lactic acid that gives us the muscle soreness we all are familiar with. Well, when you sit in an ice cold bath of water aside from freezing you also cause your vessels to become temporarily constricted. As they tighten up lactic acid is flushed from your tired muscles and the body can then get rid of it through another chemical conversion process I won’t go into in this article. After you get out of the cold your muscle tissue warms back up, causing a return of oxygenated blood to help your muscles recover even further.
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Len represents what fruits can be born from healthy living. He started training at BodyBasics in January of 2014 after his massage therapist, Lorri Tomeo, insisted he come and check out our place. At nearly 76 (Birthday August 23rd) Len looks no older than 60! He can plank with the best of them with a best recently of 4:07 during our plank challenge! He is consistent, loves to be challenged and also loves to learn new exercises. But it is his backstory that is most inspiring. You see, Len used to be 50 pounds heavier than he is these days and a serious drinker. In his words, he had another awful hangover on New Year’s Eve 1972 that changed his life. He told his Savior that he could not live that life anymore. The next morning his desire to drink was gone! He has been sober ever since and started changing his life to reflect the Len we know now the very next day. Since, he has run 5Ks, 10Ks, ½ Marathons, Triathlons, and even traveled with his wife, Erene, all around the country participating in the Rock & Roll ½ Marathon Series. I am sure you will agree with me that Len represents what we can do when we put our lives in the number one spot, with a dash of faith of course! Len, thanks for sharing your story. And thank you for the commitment you have to all of your coaches at BodyBasics!
Recipe – Chocolate Almond Cherry Crisp
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
- 1 1/2 cups oven-toasted rice cereal (such as Rice Krispies)
- 3/4 cup dried cherries
- 1/3 cup slivered almonds
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Cover a large baking sheet with wax paper.
Place semisweet and white chocolate chips in a medium glass bowl; microwave at HIGH 45 seconds. Stir, and microwave an additional 45 seconds or until almost melted. Stir until smooth. Add cereal and remaining ingredients; stir quickly to combine. Drop mixture by tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheet; chill 1 hour or until firm.