How to Improve Training Recovery Speed

Functional medicine | Chiropractic

Despite popular opinion, exercise and eating well are not the only requirements for achieving a healthy state of body and mind. You need a training recovery plan.

Why is training recovery important?

Training recovery is an important step to allow your body time to heal in anticipation for your next workout. A proper training recovery plan can help you to avoid injury, as well as optimise your results and performance.

Both physical and psychological rest are essential for a healthy, balanced lifestyle. During training recovery, the muscles repair, rebuild and strengthen themselves. Even the strongest athletes can find themselves weaker and seeing less than satisfying results for skipping training day.
While many fitness enthusiasts feel guilty about taking a day off, the phycological effects are also weighing down on them. Skipping rest day can lead to Overtraining Syndrome. A syndrome in which an individual feels the compulsive need to exercise.

Overtraining Syndrome may cause:

  • Negative mood

This includes depression, anxiety, and irritability. Negative mood may cause loss of enthusiasm for your training regime and improper technique.

  • Insomnia

Insomnia may cause slowed muscle gain, subpar body functioning and an inability to train at peak performance.
Irregular heart rate

This can be quite dangerous and may effect both your performance and ability to recover at speed.

  • Fatigue

Fatigue causes subpar body functioning and negative psychological effects. It may also result in slower muscle gain and improper technique when working out.

  • Lower immunity

This makes you prone to illness and infection which can cause unwanted rest days and slower muscles gain.

  • Reproductive issues

The root of this is overstain on the body. Whilst it is unclear through research if these issues are permanent even a temporary reproductive issue is less than desirable.

  • Trouble concentrating

Your body and mind may become exhausted and lead to trouble concentrating outside of your workout place.

  • Lower athletic performance

Overall, when your body and mind work too hard, an unhealthy balance is struck, and this become counterintuitive to athletic performance.

What happens to your body on rest day?

Rest is essential for muscle growth. The physical impact on your body causes microscopic tears in your muscle tissue. But during training recovery, cells called fibroblasts repair it. They help the muscles tissue to repair itself, resulting in stronger muscles and muscle growth. This is essential for strength training, body building and weight loss.
Additionally, your muscles store carbohydrates in the form of glycogen. During exercise, your body breaks down glycogen to give your muscles the energy they need to perform. A Training recovery plan gives your body time to replenish these energy stores before your next workout.

Glycogen is not only used by your muscles when working out. Your muscles use glycogen daily to function. Therefore, skipping rest and causing an absence of sufficient glycogen day may cause fatigue. When fatigued, you are far more likely to underperform while exercising, use the incorrect form, drop heavy equipment, or even fall.

During training recovery, you are also preparing your body for better sleep. When you exercise your body produces hormones called cortisone and adrenaline. These hormones are great for training performance but hinder sleep. A healthy amount of exercise will not produce enough cortisone or adrenaline to hinder sleep. In fact, you will likely sleep better. However, too much exercise and not enough training recovery will overproduce these hormones and you may have difficulty sleeping. Rest day allows your hormones to return to a healthy balanced state.

How do I optimise my training recovery plan?

Sleep

Make sure you get 8 hours of sleep a night. During sleep your body performs critical recovery functions and lack of sleep or sleep debt can hinder your athletic performance in a significant way.

Sleep debt can cause:

  • Increased cortisol (the stress hormone)

This reduces the level of testosterone produced. Lower testosterone means lower muscle protein synthesis. Muscle protein synthesis is the process in which protein is produced to repair muscle damage caused by exercise. When your muscles are not repairing, they are not growing or getting stronger. This applies to weight loss too as when muscles repair, they burn calories.

  • Reduced growth hormone

When your body enters a deep sleep stage growth hormone is produced. This growth hormone, released by your pituitary gland, stimulates tissue growth and muscle repair, increasing athletic performance.

  • Increased risk of injury

Balance and postural control are decreased when you are in sleep debt. This can lead to poor technique and therefore injury. Increased risk of injury means increased risk of more rest days, perhaps more than you would like on your training recovery plan.

Training recovery: How to optimise your training - hydrate

Hydrate

Humans are nearly 60% water. It stands to reason that water then is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Most people know that it is recommended we drink plenty (but not too much) water a day in order to aid important bodily function and yet most people still do not drink enough water.

Most people do consume adequate water when exercising but do not drink enough during their training recovery plan.

Every type of exercise you complete will result in some level of loss of fluid, and these fluids need to be replenished. Water is involved in many of our vital bodily process and is essential to maintain blood volume, regulate body temperature and allow muscle contractions to take place.
Water acts as a lubricant for muscles and joints, helping athletes to avoid muscle cramps and soreness. Water is not the only answer; you can also incorporate sports drinks and hydrate through foods such as watermelon, strawberries, and cantaloupe.

Stretch

Plan for both flexibility and mobility exercises when setting up your training recovery plan.
Is there a difference? Yes.

Flexibility
This refers to lengthening your muscles (stretching and bending)

Mobility
This refers to your joint movement and range of motion (moving easily)
You should be doing both. After all, what good is a strong body if you’re unable to use it properly?
After a good hard training session your muscles and nervous system will be worked up and need to cool down. When it comes to flexibility exercises, both static (held) and dynamic (range of motion) stretching will assist in relaxing them and jump-starting recovery, from a post-workout cooldown to a rest day stretch session. On a similar note, including range of motion exercises (like foam rolling, leg swings, and marches) will improve your nervous system and prepare your joints for future workouts.

Avoid alcohol

It may be tempting to relax with a glass of wine or draught of beer on your training recovery day but be warned, this will significantly hinder your all-important recovery due to alcohol’s major impact on body functions.

Why?

  • Alcohol affects the quality and quantity of sleep. This in turns leads to a decrease in protein synthesis and decreases in testosterone secretion. Both of which are important for muscles growth and repair.
  • Alcohol decreases cognitive performance which can interfere with your motivation to exercise, your ability to hold proper form when exercising and therefore may increase risk of injury.
  • Alcohol comprises immune system functioning which can lead to illness or infection. As you know, it is quite unhealthy to exercise when sick and this will cause unwanted down time in your workout recovery.

Eat well

What should you eat? The answer will vary from person-to-person dependant on many factors such as training goals (increased muscle mass, fat loss, etc.), training loads (intensity, quantity, strength vs cardio, etc.) and client preferences/beliefs.
However, being mindful of what you eat is well known to improve training recovery plan. You should be aiming to eat as much fresh food as possible and limit the amount of processed and take away foods.

What factors should you consider when choosing post-work out foods?

  • Protein, protein, protein

The building blocks of muscles or formed by protein. We eat protein to increase muscle mass and strength.

High levels of protein can also help prevent muscle loss when your body is in a “catabolic” (breaking down) state, such as during weight loss. Consuming protein immediately prior to sleep, after strength training late at night, effectively stimulates muscle protein synthesis and improves whole-body protein balance during overnight recovery.

  • Omega 3 fatty acids

These have an anti-inflammatory effect. Reducing inflammation can accelerate healing in you the training recovery plan.

Fish oils and flax seed oils are great sources of Omega 3. These are often limited in people’s diets, therefore you may need to use a supplement to aid in sufficient intake.

  • Zinc

This is an important ingredient in the production of testosterone. Testosterone helps with weight training by assisting with muscle tissue repair, muscle building and strength development.
Supplementing zinc in when you have depleted testosterone and thyroid hormone, from exhaustive exercise, is effective in restoration of normal testosterone and thyroid levels.

  • Magnesium

Magnesium is a muscle relaxant, promotes nerve functioning, cardiac activity, bone health and synthesis of proteins and fats. It plays an import role physiological recovery and will significantly improve the effectivity of your training recovery plan.

Assistance with your training recovery plan

A good training recovery plan is as important a good workout schedule or diet plan. It aids in repairing your broken down muscles, allows you to prepare for your next workout and gives you the best chance an optimised performance.

Our health is both an art and a science that can be difficult to navigate by yourself. Dr Matt le Roux works with a variety of concerns, ranging from acute, chronic pain and complex injuries to nutritional, lifestyle, and performance enhancements. He is specialised in Sports Chiropractic and therefore can help you address concerns you may have surrounding your training recovery plan and assist you to optimise a healthy, balanced lifestyle. To get in touch, visit https://mattleroux.com/contact-us/

References
Absolute Health Performance. 2020. Recovery.
https://absolutehealthperformance.com.au/recovery/#:~:text=Recovery%20is%20the%20single%20most,of%20new%20goals%20and%20PB’s.

Very Well Fit. 2020. Importance of Rest and Recovery After Your Exercise.
https://www.verywellfit.com/the-benefits-of-rest-and-recovery-after-exercise-3120575

Very Well Fit. 2012. Signs and Symptoms of Overtraining Syndrome in Athletes.
https://www.verywellfit.com/overtraining-syndrome-and-athletes-3119386

Heath Line. 2019. Are Rest Days Important for Exercise?
https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/rest-day#takeaway

Openfit. 2020. Don’t Skip Rest Day! Here’s How to Do It Right.
https://www.openfit.com/how-to-take-effective-rest-day

Very Well Fit. 2020. Is Muscle Protein Synthesis the Same as Growth?
https://www.verywellfit.com/muscle-protein-synthesis-and-muscle-growth-4148337#:~:text=Muscle%20protein%20synthesis%20is%20a,as%20a%20result%20of%20exercise.

Aaptiv. 2020. What Should I Be Doing on Rest Days?
https://aaptiv.com/magazine/what-should-i-be-doing-on-rest-days

Dr. Matt le Roux is a man of many talents: chiropractor, sports scientist and functional medicine practitioner. His science-based approach motivates him to explore the synergy between health and performance that changes the way you move, live, train, think, and eat.

Dr Matt le Roux

Chiropractor, Functional medicine practitioner

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