If you know anything about physical performance then you know that it’s not your work in the gym that makes you stronger. What makes your body stronger is the process of recovery it goes through after being stimulated by your workout. The better your body recovers the better results you’ll get. Not only that, but if you can recover faster you can train more often, effectively allowing you to go through more recovery cycles each week. So, to help you boost your performance, here are 5 methods to maximise your recovery.
1. Sleep More
Sleep, more than anything else is your body’s biggest and best source of physical and mental recovery. Whilst asleep your body enters its prime ‘anabolic’ state, and focuses on repairing muscles, recharging your nervous system and rebuilding your body. You need to aim for AT LEAST 8 hours each night. Ideally 9+ hours on training days.
Some tips to sleep better include:
No mobile phones or TV in the 30 minutes before bed.
Sleep in as dark a room as possible.
10 minutes meditation before you sleep.
Keeping a consistent sleep cycle, making sure to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
2. Eat More
Your body needs food to rebuild itself, and tonnes of junk isn’t going to cut it. You need to be eating moderate to large amounts of carbs, proteins and fats from good quality sources. You also need to make sure that you’re eating enough calories to fit your goal. For example if you’re looking to get bigger and/or stronger as fast as possible you’ll need to be eating MORE calories per day than it takes to maintain your current size.
To really optimise recovery I recommend eating 500kcal more per day than you need for maintenance. You should also make sure to get enough protein for muscle repair and growth, ideally about 1g per lb of bodyweight.
3. Drink More
Nope, not more booze, MORE WATER. Your body relies on water for a huge variety of functions and yet it’s estimated that more than 60% of British and American citizens regularly go without proper hydration. Aim to drink 5-8 big glasses of water per day, and even more if you’re training (especially during hot weather)
*Pro Tip: Sugary drinks won't help your hydration levels.
4. Get Compassionately Touched
Yep, you did just read that right. Human contact, of pretty much any kind, is proven to speed up and enhance the recovery process. This includes everything from a hug through to sports massages and even a night in with your significant other ;)
Things that might help you feel better but probably won't speed up recovery
Stretching and extra mobility work
Personally I love to perform a few hip stretches on my rest days, but I do this to keep my posture in check, not because I think it aids my recovery.
If you’re serious about your training and want to increase your performance then these five tips should be able to drastically improve your recovery. So if you’re ready to take your training to the next level it’s time to start putting in the effort at home.
Weightlifters and other athletes tend to use ice based therapy to reduce inflammation during periods of intense training or competition. However, since inflammation is one the our body's main recovery and adaption signals, using ice baths too often can actually reduce your body's ability to adapt to the training.
When it comes to training and recovery, if it isn't protein or creatine don't expect it to do that much. There are no miracle recovery supplements, so don't buy into the ridiculous claims.
Don't get me wrong, there a plenty of 'soviet sports supplements' that can massively improve your recovery, but we're keeping this conversation strictly legal for today.
Now go lift some heavy shit!