Train hard, but recover harder! Yes, you’ve read correctly. After a hard workout, recovery and resting are as important as the training itself, if not more. Your body needs time to fully repair and get stronger after active training during a process known as overcompensation.
We are often focussing on the active part of training, pushing hard during workouts, but there are other parts of a solid training program, and they don’t involve reps, new PBs or adding a kilo more on the bar. In fact, there’s a direct correlation between how well you’re recovered and your performance.
Progress is made after training
During each workout session, your body gets “damaged”, there are micro-tears in muscles, your fuel-stores get empty and metabolic by-products build up (primarily lactic acid). After the training, your body will not only repair those damages fully, it will always go a bit further and improve to be a little stronger the next time. This is what we call “overcompensation” and is the physiological mechanism behind the training effect.
When you do a lot of cardio, your VO2max increases (you can measure this widely used indicator of cardiorespiratory fitness with our audio Bleep), and if you work on your strength, the main adaptation is called muscle hypertrophy and increases the size of your muscles to make you stronger. The list of physical changes your body makes after working out is endless, but the point is that they all take time and rest to occur.
How can you support workout recovery?
If you follow one of our Training Plans, you will already have a great balance between all muscle groups so that there are never two days in a row where you work on the same muscles hard, until failure, but enough rest time is added. That is also the reason why you should stick to the order of the days in your plan, if possible.
But what else can you do to help the recovery process? And how to spend the rest days to make the most out of them?
- Eat lean proteins and healthy carbohydrates, both are important components your body needs to repair your muscles.
- During sleep, the body produces most of its growth factors and hormones that help with muscle repair and growth. How long you should sleep varies from person to person, usually between 7 and 8,5 hours of good quality sleep.
- Massages help break up scar tissue in your muscles, improves the blood flow helping flush out lactic acids, and improves the mobility and range of motion. If you can’t get one, try foam rolling.
- Active Recovery
- Active recovery means low-impact activities like yoga, easy running or cycling, hiking or relaxed swimming. As it increases the blood flow and helps with tissue repair, it is better than passive recovery (for example, chilling on the couch binge-watching your favourite series). Or, you could try our Hybrid Relaxation workout that you can find in the Cooldowns.