In cyclic sports, we frequently train to increase power, strength, and endurance. However, the process of improving efficiency depends mainly on our ability to overcome fatigue and recover after each training session. Therefore, just as you plan a training regimen – you must prepare and follow a recovery session as well.
Immediately after a training regimen, the body conditioning is lower than it was shortly before the session. This phenomenon is true, basically for any training session. To gain maximum body adaptation, fitness, and performance, one must incorporate rest and recovery time to allow the body to rebuild and overbuild the systems that were stressed during the workout. Ignoring this critical training factor will over time decrease your fitness level and your ability to perform at your fullest potential.
Here are some of the major symptoms of neglecting rest and recovery:
- Increase in fatigue
- Decreases in coordination, as well as, mental concentration
- Increased resting heart rates, higher training heart rates
- Increased levels of perceived exertion during training
- Decline in quality of sleep
- Decrease in training willingness
As in many cases in athletics, mastering the balance between training and recovery is highly individual. No one method works for every athlete. However, some guidelines exist and may help in developing a sound system for recovery.
Recovery starts before you train. Proper warmup will limit the damage by increasing blood flow to the working muscle, increasing muscle temperature and by that, allowing the muscle tissue to operate more efficiently. During the workout drink water and carbohydrate-energy drinks consciously. After the race or training session, remember to cool down. After training the most important thing you could do to speed up recovery is to replace the carbohydrates and protein you have just used. The first 30 minutes after your workout your body is much more apt to absorb and replenish those fuels than at any other time.
Sleep is another fundamental factor in recovery. During deep sleep, the highest amount of human growth hormone is released. This hormone has several critical functions both for recovery and for upping the rate of fat burning in the body. It helps repair old muscle and to build new muscle. How much is enough depends on the individual. But it is safe to say, that most people because of the typical demands of our modern world, do not get as much sleep as their bodies would ideally get. Eight hours is usually the recommended minimum. If you have a high volume of working out, your body will demand even more sleep to get the maximum advancement in fitness from your training program.
Other techniques that will speed up recovery include hot baths, massage, sauna, stretching, as well as some mental sessions like relaxation and meditation. Here at Well-Fit, our multisport members have unlimited use of our Normatec Boots in our recovery lounge which use compression devices designed for recovery and rehab. Read more about membership at Well-Fit.
Maximizing the benefit of your training program comes after recovery. Proper recovery will make you a better athlete. Poor recovery will make you a tired athlete.