Recovery is one of these things that many people don't really think about. In our heads, not exercising can sometimes be the equivalent of recovery. Although this is technically correct, recovery is much more than just not exercising. How long should your recover for? Can you exercise while recovering? Will you lose all the progress you've made? And what about food!!
To make things even more fun/complicated, your recovery is going to be unique to you, depending on your lifestyle, your training routine, your sleep schedule, your social calendar and age amongst other factors.
Let's look over some basic aspect of recovery.
The most crucial part of recovery is the quality and duration of your sleep. You've already heard that you need a good 8 hours of sleep. But why? Our bodies release growth hormone (amongst others) during sleep which help repair muscles, make them grow, repair organs and replace ageing cells. But it only does this during REM sleep. REM (rapid eye movement) sleep only accounts for 20-25% our of total sleep time. We go through various sleeping phases that have different physiological processes, and REM is the "deep" sleep we really need. If you sleep for 8 hours, you are really spending 2 hours of it in that sweet zone. Now take someone that has a crazy lifestyle, busy with work, busy with kids, finds time to train but only sleeps 5 hours a night....They are only getting 1h15min of REM. Even though it's only 45 minutes less, the long term consequences will not be fun.
Get quality sleep is what I'm trying to get across here.
Recovery between workouts
Going to the gym, taking group classes or other forms of intense workouts will usually require 48 hours of recovery. But the thing is you can workout different muscle groups each days. For example, if you do a group class that is very leg intensive, you can still do an upper body day at the gym the next day.
A very basic and effective guideline is do avoid doing the same workout or type of workout two days in a row.
Your nervous system
This deserves an entire blog post to itself and I will write one later. For now, understand that your nervous system plays a huge role in your recovery and fitness. A good nutrition plan and adequate sleeping will make sure your system nervous system is happy.
If you've been following this blog for a while, you know how important food is for recovery. Eating the right, healthy foods will allow you to recover quicker. A good rule of thumb is to only eat foods that you can either hunt, pick from a plant or dig up from the ground. Stick to dry condiments like spices and make your own dressings with olive oil and apple cider vinegar.
If you have been working out consistently for a few months, you need to pay attention to recovery weeks. That's right, a whole week of recovery! Why do this?
- Give your body a chance to fully recover
- Prevent over use injuries
- Increase motivation
- Take a mental break
- Try something new
To better understand why we need them, take a look at the graph below.