Recovery, it is one of the most important elements of exercise, yet many overlook its myriad benefits and simply don’t take the time to do it. Big mistake, as it’s a crucial aspect of your fitness plan, especially if you are trying to lose weight!
We all know that the more we exercise, the more calories and fat we burn, which is exactly why it may seem contradictory to place so much importance on getting plenty of rest between exercise sessions. However, once you understand why our muscles need proper rest and how to implement recovery, you’ll turn your workout into the most effective and efficient routine possible.
Every time we train, tiny protein fragments within the muscle cells shatter and the muscle breaks down. The more we exercise, the greater the muscle degradation (how quick it degrades is subject to the individual’s strength and the intensity of the exercise). While the stronger, fitter person experiences a slower rate of breakdown, recovery is still a necessity. “Recovery is just as important as exercising,” Trainer Robin Sullivan, owner of the Pinnacle Challenge said. “Choosing to run out the door after a workout rather than using the foam roller or stretching, will eventually result in restricted movement, muscle imbalance, and eventually, injury.”
After exercise, muscles need to replace the protein and energy lost in order to make a full recovery. If muscles do not recover fully before another workout, they progressively become smaller. This results in a slower metabolism and a decrease in lean tissue, both of which actually prohibit weight loss. A lowered metabolism means less calories burned-potentially disastrous since that means even though you’re exercising as hard as you can, you have to eat even less than before! That’s what I call a nightmare.
Our muscles must reach their fat burning potential in order to burn calories, which is exactly why it is so important to allow for muscle recovery between workouts. Robin uses three methods of recovery with clients at her three-day fitness retreat in Palm Springs: foam rolling, stretching and massages. Some complain they cannot afford massages, but a workout injury can cost much more. Plus, there are many options for inexpensively adding a massage into your routine. Many massage therapist schools offer great services for $25 an hour. Studios are opening up all over the country, focused solely on massage, with great introductory rates (as low as $39 and $49 in big cities) and monthly membership packages that can fit into almost any budget.
The foam roller is effective and inexpensive for recovery. “I have one that lives in my living room and I use it daily,” Robin said. “It’s similar to having a deep tissue massage, as it allows for myofacial release, which gives your muscles more space, and therefore, more movement. Often times, I don’t even know that an area is tight until I start rolling.” Most gyms have foam rollers and you can pick one up for about $25 to use at home.
We all know that stretching is important, yet very few people take the time to do it. We spend hours shortening the muscle fibers by taking spin classes, lifting weights, and circuit training, yet we completely ignore the need to lengthen those same fibers. Change this now and make time at both the beginning and end of your workout for stretching.
“Be sure to do dynamic stretching at the beginning of your workout and static stretching at the end of your workout,” Robin said. What is the difference between dynamic and static? It is also good to incorporate a yoga or Pilates class into your routine, so that your muscles get intense stretching on a regular basis.
- Make sure to get plenty of sleep
- Do not lower calorie intake below 1500 per day
- Eat a little high quality protein at most meals
- If new to exercising, train every other day rather than two in a row
- Try to rest a day between hard workouts
Be sure muscle soreness is completely gone and range of motion has returned before exercising those muscles
As you get in better shape, it’s possible to increase the number of training days and still be able to recover within a day. Like anything else, it’s important to pace yourself and build yourself up gradually. Olympic swimmer Dara Torres stated that adding recovery to her program is what has made her successful at the age of 42! The bottom line is your body needs recovery to be effective, stay injury free and maintain balance.
Robin Sullivan is offering The Savvy Gal readers a 10 percent discount when signing up for The Pinnacle Challenge fitness retreat. Simply mention TheSavvyGal when you sign up at ThePinnacleChallenge.com.
Chaton Anderson is a Writer and the Publicity Director for TheSavvyGal.com. A product and pop culture addict, she is always looking for the coolest, hippest things on the market, as well as the newest health and fitness trends to hit the scene. Email her at Chaton@TheSavvyGal.com with questions or leads on products and services on the cutting edge.