One of my long-time followers on YouTube recently found my blog and decided to submit a request to write an article about recovery. Thank you, Erik Wahl for the tip and also big thanks for the fact that you’ve been following me for the past 3 years. It’s always great to hear from people I inspired. Anyway, enough sentimental twaddle, let’s get to business. Erik asked me to write an article about how to recover faster from a strenuous workout. Why not make it a truth VS. myths article?
Truth: Carbohydrates and Protein
Actually Erik made it a little bit easier for me and made some notes for himself in his email to me. In it he wrote down some of the things that can contribute to recovery. The first one he mentioned was eating an adequate amount of protein and carbohydrates. It’s recommended to eat some carbohydrates and protein right after a workout indeed. Recently I also found out that the best ratio in which these nutrients should be taken is four grams of carbs for every one gram of protein. A great example of a food with this 4:1 ratio is low fat chocolate milk. I write about this in my first book too, but for now let’s say that chocolate milk is actually a great post-workout snack. Simple carbohydrates help you to recover faster. Get these carbs from healthy foods such as (dried) fruits. Technically speaking you could settle for a candy bar, but since I’m a health guru I should be strict and say: no candy for you!
Truth: The Bedroom Is Where All The Magic Happens
No worries, I’ll keep this article at least PG-13. What I mean with the magic that happens in the bedroom is simply sleeping. That’s right. Your muscles grow and repair during your sleep. If you have an adequate amount of sleep each day you are definitely seeing that back in how quickly you recover. Sleeping only 4 hours after an intense workout is really going to bring you down. You simply don’t have enough time to recover and potentially lose a lot of the progress you’ve made during your training. Sleep at least 6 or 7 hours a day! A regular sleeping pattern is a must for good recovery.
Truth: Properly Hydrate Yourself
You’ll be surprised by what water can do for you. Water and other fluids can remove break-down products and transports nutrients through your body. Being properly hydrated protects your muscles from exhaustion setting in too early. You simply can handle more if you’re drinking enough.
Myth: Stretching Makes You Recover Faster
Let’s make it a bit more exciting and throw in a myth for a change. A common misconception is that stretching can reduce muscle soreness or improves recovery. Stretching can reduce tension in your muscles, but muscle soreness is not the same as tension hence it cannot improve it. One of the benefits of stretching exercises though, is that they help your muscles become more flexible. You’ll be a better overall athlete that has a lower risk of getting injured. Therefore it indirectly could help you to recover faster from workouts simply because your body can adapt itself better and won’t suffer as much from your workouts as you would without a flexible body.
Myth / Truth: Massaging Boosts Recover
I feel this one is on the edge of being a myth and being true. Massaging yourself – or better yet, receiving one from someone else – can reduce tension and soreness in muscles. It does not actually reduce lactic acid any sooner than without a good backrub though. However, some studies do show that it reduces inflammations that could be caused by working out. I would have to do way too much research for a Sunday evening to actually find some decent articles about this topic, but I also think there is still a debate going on about this. For now let’s say massaging may or may not work. Why wait for science to find an answer on this question? Hire a masseuse and find out yourself!
Truth: Warm Ups And Cooling Downs
A proper warm up can reduce the risk of getting injured and quite possibly also helps promote a faster recovery. The same goes for a cooling down. Letting your body adjust to a decreased heart rate and blood flow after the intense workout can give it more time to remove waste products, hence improve recovery. Regardless of whether you recover faster after implementing a proper preparation it’s always best to warm up before a workout. Out of personal experience and hearing tons of anecdotes of colleague athletes throughout the years I have learned that a hard workout without a warm up equals pain. Have fun walking like Happy Feet the day after leg-day without a warm up. It won’t do much good to your recovery.
Truth: Vitamins And Minerals
I wouldn’t go into too much detail on this one and I wouldn’t make a fuss about it if you disagree, because getting in an adequate amount of vitamins and minerals is never a bad thing. That’s also the case if you try to recover faster after a workout. No need for multivitamins and minerals. Any decent nutrition plan should deliver plenty of vitamins and minerals to help you recover faster. You see, these micronutrients are needed to (help) make certain cells in the body. Not only that, but many vitamins are antioxidants as well. These little fellows help to reduce free radicals which could damage your body. Something that not a lot of people know is that working out and exercising can actually damage the body due to a higher production of free radicals. With a healthy nutrition plan filled with vitamins and minerals you can reduce these levels of bad guys.
Truth: Proper Diet
Do I even have to explain this one after already putting up two explanations regarding this topic? I didn’t think so. With proper diet I mean a well-balanced diet with plenty of variation. It should contain a whole lot of complex carbohydrates, protein, unsaturated fats and fibers. Vitamins and minerals, as mentioned before, should be present too. The unwelcome guests are saturated fats, transfat, empty calories and simple sugars. Stay away from those bad nutrients as much as possible.
Myth: Supplements? No thanks
Let’s face it, I’m not a fan of supplements. Don’t get me wrong though, because in fact I do use protein powder and occasionally creatine. The first one mostly out of convenience, because drinking some extra calories is easier for me than eating another chicken or half a dozen eggs a day. Creatine is something that I’ve actually seen good results with and that is considered safe and effective.
Anyway, recovery… Even though fitness industries would love it if you believed supplements would help you recover way faster I think they already make enough money. So here I am, telling you that supplements won’t make you recover faster. Stick with the old-school methods of proper nutrition and sleep. You and your wallet will thank me later.
If you have a request or question let me know by clicking on the ‘Ask Jerome’ button and who knows, I may write an article about your recommended topic! Feel free to get in an argument with each other below, but keep it fair. A black eye and hurt feelings take longer to recover from than your soreness after leg-day!