So you finished the workout. It started with the warm-up: getting your muscles firing, waking up your central nervous system, maybe some mobility and flexibility work. Then you hit the strength, let’s say it was a 3 rep max front squat. You pushed yourself to the very last set and your legs are screaming at you! And that’s just half of class, now it’s time to WOD. You go hard, push yourself to the breaking point and then dig just a little bit deeper and finish things up, laying in a sweat puddle on the floor as one of the coaches claps and asks what your score was. Then the fatigue sets in. You can feel it creep up into each and every muscle and you know you’re going to sleep well that night.
Your body listens to you when you ask it to perform. When you dig for that last box jump, your body responds and makes sure your feet clear the box, avoiding the dreaded shin-smash. Now YOU need to listen to your body when it comes time to rest and recover. Here are my tips on how to improve your recovery, so that you wake up the next day ready to go:
- Stretch it out and do some foam rolling. When you work out, your body produces lactate (a form of energy). The bi-product is lactic acid. Lactic acid causes that burning sensation, fatigue and muscle soreness! The easiest way for me to explain the effect of lactic acid is describing it as glue. If you leave that glue in your muscles after you work out, it’ll stick your muscle fibers to your fascia (connective tissues) and the next day, you will be stiff, tight and unable to move around as much. Stretching and foam rolling after the workout helps regulate the amount of lactic acid buildup in your muscles.
- Drink some fluids. Proper hydration helps regulate your body temperature, which will help speed up the recovery process. Look for drinks with electrolytes in them, but I would avoid Gatorade and Powerade (too much other stuff in them).
- Eat good food and take a supplement. After an intense workout, your body is screaming for you to replenish itself with nutrients. Within 30 minutes of working out, you need to have something in your body. Lean cuts of protein and vegetables/fruit would be amazing, but if you know that you will not have the time to get that into your body right away, look for a supplement. Whey protein powders and BCAA´s are pretty much exactly what your body will need to begin the recovery process. Check out the two products from Game Plan: Whey and Recovery.
- Contrast showers. Once you have showered normally, turn the water all the way over to cold and count to 30 seconds. Then turn it back to hot and count to 30. Repeat 2-3 times. This will increase circulation.
- Sleep! Sleep in a cold, dark room for at least 8 hours. The ideal time for athletes to go to sleep, for maximal output the next day is 9pm. During sleep, your body goes through a number of processes for recovery (tissue repair, release of hormones, etc).