Rest, recover and repeat like a pro
As fitness experts we know how important rest and recovery is for performing well in the gym and achieving consistent results. Yet so many people still think that the best way to train is by exercising every day without any rest or recovery time in between.
If you are under this impression, or you feel guilty for skipping the gym because your body aches or you’re too tired, take our word for it now: getting enough of the right kind of rest will massively improve your performance in and out of the gym and it will ultimately help you to sustainably get the results that you’re looking for.
Training without the appropriate rest, however, is completely counterproductive and will eventually start to stagnate or even reverse any progress you’ve made already.
So, if you want to make sure you’re getting the absolute best out of yourself and your body every single time you go to train and continue achieving results, read our pick of the best recovery methods below.
Note: We always recommend at least 2 recovery days per 7-day week.
1. Contrast Bathing
At first glance this method sounds like one for the tough-skinned pro’s, but we can assure you that, when done properly, it feels much better than it sounds and can help in particular to aid injuries.
Otherwise known as ‘contrast hydrotherapy’, this is a method prized by top athletes for its muscular benefits. The simple treatment stimulates muscles by forcing the tissue to adapt to different temperatures quickly. It results in better circulation and an increased metabolism – like a mini muscle workout that requires little movement – especially helpful for injured areas.
Method: Set up a cold bath (preferably with ice) and a warm shower. Spend 1 minute in the bath and 1 minute in the shower. Repeat up to 5-6 times.
Alternatively, if don’t fancy immersing your whole body into a tub of ice but you have a specific body part (i.e. an ankle or leg) that requires attention due to injury, try applying the above process to just that one are.
2. Magnesium Supplementation
Magnesium is an electrolyte that’s typically low in people engaged in regular exercise, but it’s a popular ingredient used to treat a wide range of ailments of the mind and body.
Not only is it required for the growth and maintenance of bones and the function of nerves and muscles, it’s also brilliant for easing tension and fatigue in the body, making it a common go-to for athletes looking to speed up their recovery process.
By relaxing the muscles, Magnesium can help you to feel more comfortable outside the gym, which is particularly useful in the evenings when it’s time to wind down and for recovery in general.
Method: Try Magnesium bath salts (in a bath temperature that suits you), applying a Magnesium spray, or taking a supplement. We recommend Nutri Advanced Supplements.
We KNOW everyone’s said it before. We’ve said it before. And we’ll continue to say it because there really is no replacement for it.
Beyond the huge range of benefits that drinking enough water can bring, for this specific post on recovery, we’ll stick to two.
Hydration is essential for transporting electrolytes that aid muscle growth and recovery. Not drinking enough water before, during and after exercise will keep recovery speed slow and will also increases the chances of your body cramping up which obviously isn’t good for performance or recovery.
A general tip to remember is: if you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated! So, keep that water bottle topped up.
4. Manual Therapy
Think ‘Massages, Physio, Sports Therapists’, etc.
You’ll probably be happy to hear that to get the results you’re after, you need to treat yourself regularly. But to treat yourself does not mean to gorge on ‘cheat days’ or stay in bed for 24 hours, binge-watching Netflix. No, you have to treat your body in a way that rewards you with an improved mentality and great performance the next time you’re in the gym.
For us, there often isn’t a better treat for the body and mind than a massage!
If you can, try and book a massage to take place one or two days after training and repeat once or twice a month (or more if you can afford it) for maximum benefits. Our good friends and partners Batch Sports Therapy have 3 clinics across Manchester and some of the best therapists in the city available to provide all the recovery and repair you could need.
5. Light Exercise / Active Recovery
Believe it or not, a light walk or jog the day after a heavy session will actually aid muscular recovery better than minimal movement (unless you have a specific injury that requires little movement), because it stimulates the blood flow to working muscles. Regular movement is also proven to benefit our mentality, so you’re gaining more than physical aid by doing this.
And finally, the one recovery strategy that, for us, stands out above all the rest:
Too many people underestimate the awesome healing powers that getting a good amount of quality sleep can provide.
Sleep deprivation is a proven link to poor decision making, low energy levels and unbalanced blood sugar, all of which often lead to negative effects on our mood and an inclination to make poor food choices on the day(s) following exercise. If any of these symptoms sound familiar to you, it might be time to start thinking about the amount and quality of sleep you’re getting.
Once you’ve experienced the benefits that just one night of quality sleep can have, you’ll never want to look back. Read our short blog which covers some top tips for getting a good nights’ sleep regularly.
Sometimes, getting yourself to train well can feel like a huge battle, but we can guarantee you that exercising without the proper rest will make it a battle; one that you’ll quickly loose.
In order to make progress on your fitness journey - whether it be gaining muscle, losing weight, toning up, etc -, you must let your body recover.
If you want to perform and really ‘show up’ for yourself, then get enough REST. Do not feel guilty for missing a day if and when your body needs it, so long as you’re helping yourself recover properly, i.e. by using one or a combination of the above tips
Give some of these a go a few times a week and let us know how you get on.
Until next time!
The M3 team.