Reading time: 4 minutesPublished: April 30, 2018
Exercise and recovery has always been a balancing act. Too much training and not enough recovery can cause just as much discomfort, if not more, than if you were trying to run a marathon bare foot. Recovery is key when it comes to making sure you prioritise your body when exercising. It’s finding that balance that truly keeps everything in equilibrium. Here are 5 recovery tips that I use, to make sure I get the most out of my exercise and training.
1. Don’t Over Do it
It’s easy to get carried away when it comes to exercise; especially if you have a goal in mind, with a tight timeframe. My advice would be to set smaller goals and try to achieve your ultimate goal over a longer timeframe. But this is absurd! Everyone else says do it as quickly as possible… The reason? Your body is very adaptable. This is the reason why the human race has been able to populate the world and become the dominant species. But we didn’t do it over night? If you train incessantly without rest, your body biologically won’t have time to adapt. This is why so many of us put weight back on after we have pursued a month long health binge. Our bodies have this natural urge to regress if the changes have been too drastic to quickly. Solution: ease into training if you haven’t started yet, and if you have a goal in mind; ensure that it is within a timeframe that is sensibly achievable.
2. Schedule your training
Exercise can be seen as a burden for some people. I want to turn that idea around and establish one thing; there is more than enough time in the day fit 20 minutes of moderate exercise into your day. That’s all it is - 20 minutes! We sit through hours of television and streaming advertisements in the day, why are we not taking the opportunity to revitalise ourselves during this time? There are institutes throughout the world that have done the research which informs us the MINIMUM time to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I stress minimum, because you’re not likely to achieve your health goals based on 20 minutes or moderate exercise a day; but it’s definitely a step in the right direction. Solution: advertisements don’t benefit our bodies, movement does! Allocate 20 minutes in your day to achieve something, rather than sitting around waiting.
3. Listen to your Body
Intuition is invariably humanity’s greatest asset. A small amount of bearable pain is okay when you’re exercising. Training might even be uncomfortable sometimes when you push your body, however, if you’re struggling to walk 5 days after your 5K run, or that twinge in your back is so unbearable that you can’t get out of bed, then you need to listen to your body. Most of the time it means rest and recovery, but don’t stop working out. It’s easy to forget that you can exercise most other parts of your body when another part of your body is in pain or in discomfort. The recovery process will be more effective and shorter if you allow blood flow through your body by moving freely. This allows your body’s natural healing abilities through blood cells to help you make a full recovery quickly. Solution: Try not to train the same body part that is giving you grief, it might not just be a niggle. However, don’t stop exercising, you still need to provide your body with movement to allow blood flow to the affected areas, which will ultimately help with the healing process.
4. Vary Your Workout
Consistency can be nice, but variability attracts change and improvement. As I’ve said before, our bodies are very adaptable. If you consistently perform the same workout time and time again, you’ll improve; definitely, but there comes a point where your muscles and motor neurones adapt to the same movement and same stresses. Put simply, they get used to doing the same thing over and over again. Which is what our bodies are designed to do. However, if you want your body to improve and develop efficiently, variability is key. By doing the same thing over and over again, you may solidify yourself into a rut and not see improvements. Solution: to get the most out of your training, my key tip is to make sure that you incorporate changes into your workout routines. They don’t have to be frequent or massive changes. But they have to be significant to make a change.
5. Get Some Sleep
My last tip to get the most out of your training is sleep. I’ve written previously about the importance of sleep when it comes to diet and health. The same goes with training and improvements to energy, strength, endurance, muscle density and even muscle elasticity. Recovering after a workout isn’t an invitation to sit down and stream tv for a movie all night. Recovery means slowing your brain function, relaxing your muscles and restoring your energy reserves through REM sleep. REM sleep refers to the deep sleep where your body relaxes and energy stores are replenished. It is categorised by Random Eye Movement, hence the acronym. My solution: 7 hours. Research has proven time and time again that 7 hours of unbroken sleep in necessary for optimal health. This helps you relax and allows your body to balance itself and recover after exercise.
My final say:
Guidelines are easy to follow when it comes to training. My advice? Stick with these simple steps to get the most out of your training and you’ll see yourself improve in no time! 20 minutes a day; the MINIMUM necessary exercise time to maintain a healthy life. 7 hours sleep; the optimal sleep duration to help your body recover. Variability; chasing your workout to continue seeing improvements. Intuition; you body knows when it’s time to stop and re-evaluate. And finally, don’t over do it. Know your limits, by all means push them, but understand the consequences of over working your body without rest because exercise and recovery has always been a balancing act.
Written by: Matt