With spring underway and summer not far behind, you’re likely getting the itch to get back in the gym or ramp up your training regimen. Sometimes that may be exactly what you need, assuming you’re getting ample recovery. Taking the time and putting effort towards proper recovery is equally important as working your tail off in the gym, and without it you could be hindering progress. The focus here is not to shy you away from a hard workout or keep you out of the gym, it’s to help you remember why recovery plays such a vital role in reaching your goals.
Failing to recover properly not only negatively affects your physical health, it also takes a toll on your mental health. Signs of insufficient recovery include elevated stress levels, lack of motivation, lack of focus or concentration, insomnia, and feelings of irritability, restlessness, or anxiety. Along with these mental and emotional feelings are the physical feelings of under-recovery, which include decreased physical performance, general fatigue, loss of body weight, and chronic pain in your muscles and joints. It’s important to remember that some of these symptoms can be signs of underlying mental or physical conditions that are unrelated to your training and recovery methods. Before you make the claim that you’re training too hard or cutting yourself short on recovery, take time to self-evaluate by answering a few simple questions:
Are there other stressors in your life that could be affecting your mental health?
Are you getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night, and if so, how is your sleep quality?
Is your diet rich in nutrients and low in processed foods?
Are you neglecting an injury in order to complete a workout?
Have you drastically increased your workload in the gym in a short period of time?
Do you allow yourself time for a proper warm-up and cool-down for each workout?
Don’t be afraid to reach out to those around you for guidance, including services that may be offered to you such as personal training, physical therapy, behavior modification, and nutritional guidance.
There are plenty of ways to recover properly and return to the gym well-rested and ready to work hard. Below are some tips and tricks to recover quickly and minimize excess damage done to your body after and during a workout:
Proper warm-up: Allow yourself 5-10 minutes for a light warm-up to gradually increase your heart rate and prime up your muscles.
Appropriate Workload: Your workout should challenge you, but not to the point of complete exhaustion. (Progress doesn’t happen overnight!)
Proper Form: Using correct form on your exercises will eliminate unnecessary pain on your muscles, joints, and bones after a workout.
Foam-rolling/stretching: Foam rolling can help to relieve tension in the muscle, while stretching over time can increase your range of motion and level of comfort.
Nutrition: Eliminate excess processed foods from your diet, and be sure to get some healthy, digestible forms of protein throughout the day and after each workout.
Sleep: All that damage done to your body is rendered useless without proper sleep. Focus on both quantity and quality.
As stated earlier, don’t let this post steer you away from those grueling, stress-relieving workouts that we all need. Instead use this as a reminder that proper recovery is not just recommended, it’s necessary. Take time to evaluate and improve on outside factors besides the gym, such as sleep quality, diet and nutrition, and reducing everyday stressors. You’ll be amazed at how good you can feel.