Optimise recovery after training by following these simple guidelines to get the most out of your workout session:
1. Use the anabolic window to build lean muscle
Your body is in a catabolic state when you are finished with your training and you need to immediately start to build it up to recover properly from your workout session. When you eat you start an anabolic hormonal cascade that primes your body for the repair process.The period immediately after exercise is commonly known as “the anabolic window of opportunity” where your cells are open to take up nutrients to start the recovery process and build lean muscle tissue. New research suggests that you can also benefit from pre-and intra-workout supplementation with protein to recover from exercise.
2. Eat the right stuff
Eating the right foods after a training session or race is important. Try to avoid high-fat foods, not because they’re bad, but because they are more slowly digested. By eating high-fat foods you will only delay the digestion and absorption of carbs and protein – the macronutrients your body is in need of right after a tough training session or race. Muscles basically need a large dose of protein to start the rebuilding and repair process, as well as carbs to replenish glycogen stores in the muscle cells and liver.
3. Keep moving
The most natural thing to do after a tough workout is to do as little as possible. However, few things are as detrimental to your health and your recovering muscles.If you just sit at a desk or on a couch with your feet up for the rest of the day you will reduce blood flow, which impedes the removal of exercise metabolites and limits the delivery of anabolic hormones, energy substrates and inflammation-fighting cytokine inhibitors and anti-inflammatory cytokines. Basically by doing nothing you will prevent your muscles from recovering and you will increase post-exercise stiffness and soreness, which can negatively impact your next training session.
4. Change clothes
When you sweat during a workout a number of toxins, metabolic by-products and heavy metals are excreted through your sweat glands. If you stay in your workout clothes for extended periods of time after your workout your body will just re-absorb these toxins through your pores. The best thing to do is to take a shower immediately after a workout, or at least change into a clean set of clothes before heading home.
5. Replace electrolytes
When you exercise important minerals and nutrients are lost through sweat such as electrolytes. These ‘salts’ are important to maintain fluid balance in your body. Replacing electrolytes is crucial for proper recovery, especially when you have trained in hot and humid conditions. Rehydration after exercise can only be achieved if the electrolytes lost in sweat, as well as the lost water, are replaced with a drink that helps to replenish electrolytes. The ideal drink should contain sodium and possibly also some potassium. A small amount of carbohydrates may improve the rate of intestinal uptake of sodium and water.
Author: Tanja Schmitz
Founder and Editor of Fitness Magazine. You’ll find her behind her computer or on her bike, dreaming up new ways to improve or create content for you.