If you’re like us, and like many other athletes, your determination and your drive is great; you know where you want to go, and you are willing to put in the necessary effort every day to get there. But sometimes, that indomitable will to better yourself can actually be detrimental to your performance if you aren’t allowing your body the time it needs to heal and recover.
Today on the blog, we are going to go over the importance of recovery and some steps you can take to ensure your body is recovering efficiently so that you can continue to make massive gains in strength, power, and performance.
Let’s start with the basics.
Your skeletal muscle is made up of many different parts, including myofibrils, which are long, thin, cylindrical rods that run within the muscle fiber. During your workout, localized muscle damage occurs to these myofibrils. This damage, or micro-tears, is often referred to as catabolism. It is the breakdown of your muscle fibers. Any time your muscles are used during intense training or when you are progressively overloading your muscles, whether it is during strength or endurance training, damage occurs.
In order for your muscles to grow, they must enter an anabolic state, in which hypertrophy and hyperplasia occur. You’ve probably heard of hypertrophy before but might not be familiar with hyperplasia.
Hypertrophy is an increase in the size of the muscle due to an increase in the size of muscle fibers, while hyperplasia is an increase in the number of muscle fibers.
Your body becomes anabolic and starts healing the damage caused by your workout while you are resting. In order for muscle growth to occur, protein synthesis must be greater than protein breakdown. Therefore, if you do not allow your body the time that it needs to rest, recover, and regenerate, you will not see the muscle growth or the increases in strength that you are expecting.
Now that you’re convinced about the importance of muscle recovery, let’s cover some ways in which you can ensure that your muscles are recovering fully and efficiently.
- Fuel your workouts with proper pre-workout nutrition
The importance of the post-workout meal, getting in your protein shake immediately after a workout, has become common knowledge. But the pre-workout meal is often forgotten.
Not only can a good pre-workout meal help you have a great workout, it can also aid in recovery post-workout. Consuming an adequate amount of protein and carbohydrates pre-workout has been shown to stimulate protein synthesis post-workout, meaning your muscles will recover quicker.
Some studies have concluded that the optimal ratio of carbs to protein is 4:1. So, if you are consuming 60 g of carbs before your workout, it would be ideal to also consume 20 g of protein.
- Stretching and Foam Rolling
Foam rolling is a relatively new recovery technique, but it has already been widely adopted by many athletes and strength coaches. Studies show that foam rolling can be used as a recovery tool after exercise induced damage to improve range of motion and help reduce the feeling of delayed onset muscle soreness.
Use a foam roller for 10-20 minutes, with breaks as needed, post-workout to increase blood flow, enhance blood lactate removal, and increase oxygen delivery to your muscles. The results of foam rolling have also been shown to be enhanced when combined with static stretching.
- Post-Workout Meal
Although there is much debate about the anabolic window, which is the idea of consuming protein within 30 minutes of a workout to prevent muscle, the benefits of consuming protein post-workout are well-known and widely accepted.
Protein is the most important macronutrient needed to help fuel muscle protein synthesis and repair muscle cells post-workout. More specifically, the amino acids that make up the protein are required for muscle protein synthesis. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and there are up to 20 amino acids in every protein source.
Post-workout, it is best to consume fast-digesting complete proteins to jump-start the muscle protein synthesis. If you are not able to consume a full meal post-workout a great option is to supplement with a Whey or Whey Isolate protein, both of which are fast-digesting and contain complete amino acid profiles. Check out our Bodylogix® Natural Whey and Bodylogix® Natural Isolate. With 24 g of cold-processed, cross-flow micro and ultra-filtered, undenatured protein per scoop, Bodylogix® Natural Whey is designed to help you get the most out of your workout and support your performance goals. In addition, an ideal supplement for individuals involved in intense training, Bodylogix® Natural Isolate contains 5.7 g of naturally occurring BCAAs to build and repair muscles and 25 g of cold-processed, cross-flow micro and ultra-filtered, undenatured 100% whey protein per scoop.
Not getting enough sleep has been shown to decrease the activity of protein synthesis pathways and increase the activity of degradation pathways, meaning there will be an increase in muscle mass loss. Further, muscle recovery after damage caused by exercise will be hindered.
Now you have an excuse to hit snooze one more time. Sleep is important not only for your memory function, but your muscle performance as well.
Reaching peak performance requires a commitment, a promise to push yourself further than you did the day before. But reaching your goals also involves recovery. Make sure you are taking the rest that you need so that you can continue to see increases in strength, power, and performance.