Keep on working: the lowdown on workout recovery

October 2, 2017

Your workout doesn’t “finish” when you leave the gym. In order to get the most out of your training, the period straight after you put down the weights - and even between sessions - is just as important to make sure you’re getting proper recovery.


Why is recovery so important?

Recovery time between sessions allows the body to adapt to the stress that training has caused, by building more muscle to cope with the load. Recovery also allows for repair of muscle tissue to help reduce the risk of injury and to replenish energy to fuel the next training session.


Keep on moving

Yes, we know stretching out can be boring, but it’s really important for flexibility and alleviating any potential soreness you might feel after working out. Lock in stretching as part of your training and you’ll be more likely to do it.

Light movement, also known as “active recovery” is another great way of alleviating soreness or muscle tightness between workouts. Gentle cardio, such as walking or bike riding, can get the blood flowing allowing for circulation to the muscles. If you’re feeling particularly sore, try using a foam roller.


Protein – get enough of the good stuff

Protein during recovery is particularly important for a number of reasons, says Swisse dietitian, Simone Austin. “It aids repair of damaged muscle fibers and synthesises new protein muscle fibers induced by training. It also facilitates replenishment of depleted energy stores and may contribute to these if carbohydrate is lacking.

“Early intake after exercise (within the first hour) of essential amino acids from good quality protein foods helps to promote the increase in protein rebuilding. Eating protein in meals and snacks after this window of opportunity will further promote protein synthesis, though at a slower rate.” Simone explains.  


Antioxidants are your friends

An antioxidant-rich snack post workout, such as fruit and vegetables, and even some extra virgin olive oil can really assist with the muscle recovery phase. Antioxidants help with tissue repair and can have anti-inflammatory effects.


Sip it up

Make sure you hydrate adequately post-exercise, including replacing electrolytes like sodium and potassium. It’s important to replenish sodium levels, which can become depleted due to sweat, while potassium can help with muscle contractions. It goes without saying, but minimise or avoid alcohol during the recovery period.


Get some rest

Post-training, your energy stores are depleted, your body’s fatigued and your muscles are broken down. Adequate rest between sessions can help your body recover and avoid “overtraining”, which can result in a fitness plateau or, even injury. You don’t need to sit on the couch during rest days, it can be a good opportunity to get in some gentle cardio or yoga, for example, but it’s still important that you give your body a break. Long term, your body will love you for it.