Recovery after exercise
In the fitness industry a lot of focus is placed on the workout; the sets, the reps, times and the effort put into the exercise. However emphasis on the recovery in between workouts is limited.
What is recovery?
Here I am talking about recovery as a period of rest post workout (rather than between sets), where you stop your activity. It is a time when your muscles no longer have to work.
Why do we need to recover?
During exercise our muscles are put under stress as they are used to produce force; be that in lifting weights or riding a bike. This work results in micro tears in the muscle fibres, depletion of glycogen stores and fluid loss. Recovery time allows these stores to be filled up and the muscle tissue to be repaired.
Post workout meal
To start the recovery process straight after training it is important to replenish your carbohydrate stores and promote protein synthesis (preventing the breakdown of muscle and aiding increase of muscle size and strength). Eating a balanced meal after your workout can do this. If this cannot be eaten for a few hours, a small protein and carbohydrate based snack or drink is ideal straight after exercising.
During exercise we sweat and in doing so we lose water which is needed for our bodies to work optimally. In order to prevent dehydration ensure you drink water after exercise as well as during.
Adequate sleep is important and needed in order to maximise performance when training and the recovery process after.