Are you thinking, “I wanna get fast. I wanna get fit. I wanna get strong.”? You start training day-in and day-out. Whatever your training method is, you hit it hard. You work and work and work but you never see the results you want. One of the biggest contributing factors to this is you are not resting, recovering and/or refueling well enough.
Rest is essential to gaining strength and endurance. Your muscular, nervous, and endocrine (hormonal) systems need the time to recharge their batteries, and rest is the best way to do that. Your muscles only rebuild and get stronger on your rest days. It takes 24-48 hours for our muscles to repair themselves. Our nervous system can get fatigued by over training. Only when we rest does our nervous system have a chance to “reset.” The hormones released during training, like endorphins and cortisol, are needed for a successful training session, but without the proper rest and relaxation, these hormones continue to be released, never allowing the body to return to homeostasis. Rest can consist of taking a day off from training, sleeping, or just a low impact day like taking the dog for a walk.
Recovery is often related to rest, but looks a little different. Here, we want to do the proper things to recover the muscles (and our mind) from out training sessions. Most of the time, this means stretching, doing tissue work such as self-myofacial release with a lacrosse ball or PVC pipe, or getting a massage. We always hear that you shouldn’t just lift heavy, train hard, and then go about your business. This is very true. Your body needs some “down time” before going back to your every day business. Try spending 5-10 minutes post-workout stretching, lying in “corpse pose” (flat on your back, arms by your side, palms up, heels touching but feet relaxed), or schedule a regular massage session with a therapist who knows your sport. The body needs recovery to prevent getting overly sore, tight or immobile.
Refueling… I can’t tell you how many times people fail to do this right. After a workout, our bodies are craving protein to rebuild muscles, and quick! Refueling with a small amount of clean food within 30 minutes of finishing your workout will do wonders for your training gains. We are talking primal here so when we talk about refueling post-workout we typically aren’t talking a protein shake with lots of milk or whey, and definitely not soy. The best source of refueling you can find is a great mix of lean, clean meat (turkey, roast beef, burger patty etc.) and a small amount of sweet potatoes. Mixing the sweet potatoes with a little bit of unsweetened applesauce is super yummy. There are some cases where no fuel post-workout can be considered but start with this first and see how you feel.
If you are looking for some gains in your training, especially if you have hit a plateau, remember the 3 R’s and you will see progress faster than you imagine. Rest, Recovery, and Refueling are essential pieces to proper training methods and achieving your fitness goals.