Rest and recovery is an important aspect of achieving superior strength and conditioning.
More workout ≠ more gains, we understand that you have been trying hard to stay dedicated towards fitness goals but workout recovery is something that should never be taken for granted.
I have come across many guys who injured themselves or stalled the growth progress because of the insufficient recovery period.
Ahead in this article were are going to talk about the importance of recovery schedule, understanding the process of active rest, How your age affects your recovery speed and some pro tips to fast post-workout recovery.
What is the workout recovery period?
Let’s get to the little basics first, any intense workout (strength or endurance) exerts pressure on your body which results in the micro-tears in muscle fibers and soreness in the muscle group.
Post-workout soreness is also known as DOMS (Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness).
Although these micro-tears play a very important role in growth but it’s essential to provide proper healing time.
On average, the body’s workout recovery period is about 24-72 hours. While the frequent lifters can recover faster and new lifters might take 3-4 days to overcome soreness caused by DOMS.
Symptoms of DOMS?
DOMS is caused by the micro-tears in the muscle fibers which leads to inflammation and lactic buildup. DOMS pain does not cause pain in the whole body, instead, it can be experienced in the trained muscle. Muscle stiffness and tenderness are the most common symptom of DOMS. Some rest and anti-inflammatory measures can help you get rid of pain easily.
Types of workout recovery period.
Yes, all the workout recovery periods are not the same. They can be broadly classified into two categories.
- Short term recovery
- Long term recovery.
Your body needs both of these on a periodical basis. Let’s understand how they work:
Short term recovery:
Short term recovery routine is something that is followed just after an intense training session. Routine involves engaging in activities that are low in intensity and can get to the body into a cool-down phase.
Short term recovery involves:
- Post-workout stretching and foam rolling.
- Post-workout nutrition and supplementation.
- Coldwater bath to reduce inflammation
- Massage therapies (massage gun, body scrapping, dry cupping)
- Followed by at least eight hours of restful sleep
Long term recovery:
Long term recovery periods might involve giving some total break a few specific days or including some new workout pattern (cross-training, HIIT, bodyweight training) for a while.
It refers to scheduling seasonal long-term recovery sessions that help in dodging plateau. Most pro athletes choose a well-designed training program for a particular period and then change the workout routine to keep the body in constant growth and development.
What is active rest and recovery
Planning for active rest and recovery sessions is a great way to allow the required rest without actually being sedentary for the whole day.
In simple words, active recovery days include easy body movements that do not hamper the recovery.
People who like to go hard at daily training sessions are the most vulnerable to injuries. Continuously overtraining can weaken your immune system, joint pain, constant fatigue, depression, insomnia, etc.
Active rest and recovery are the perfect ways to burn some calories without putting excessive pressure on the body.
What are the best active rest movements?
Tai chi and Yoga
For someone interested in strength and balance improvement but without involving extensive stress.
Yoga is a tried and tested active recovery method (my personal favorite) that helps in improving flexibility and relieve stress.
On the other hand, Tai Chi is also a low impact active recovery movement that brings coordination and balance to the body.
Swimming can help in burning tons of calories while putting no pressure on joints.
Researchers at the University of Western Australian conducted a study with nine well-trained triathletes who were asked to perform two sets of High-intensity interval running sessions, followed by a swimming session as a cool-down period.
Swimming is an incredibly low impact option that not just helps in active recovery but also improves cardiovascular health and relieve stress.
Animal flow workouts
Did you hear about animal flow or primal flow workout?
Its a workout pattern created by Mike Fitch, workout features a structured series of animal-style movements that are linked together to form a flow.
It’s a bodyweight workout pattern that is designed to improve strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination.
Walking or cycling
Most affordable active recovery option. Walking or cycling a few miles can help you stay fit while supporting the recovery period.
If cycling, try maintaining a steady pace.
Importance of post-workout recovery routine
There is enough evidence backing the importance of post-workout recovery. A good post-workout recovery routine includes – Nutrition, stretching, foam rolling, therapies, sleep, etc.
Let’s have a look at top reasons to pay more emphasis to it.
1# Prevents fatigue:
Post-workout recovery routine helps in providing the much-required healing time that helps in faster recovery. Intense workout leads to the depletion of glycogen reserves that makes you feel exhausted and drowsy.
You feed your muscles with all the nutrients to accelerate the healing process.
I prefer to take protein shakes just after a workout session, those liquid drinks are easily digested and provide instant support to muscle fibers.
#2 Prevents DOMS
Intense training leads to DOMS, we have already studied about that. A good post-workout recovery routine will help in clearing the lactic buildup and relieving muscle stiffness.
Foam rolling, stretching routine, cold/hot bath plays a very important role in reducing muscle stiffness and tenderness.
#3 Reduces the risk of injury
Mistakes happen when you have outworked your body. Overtraining makes you more vulnerable to injuries.
Neglecting good recovery sessions and exposing muscles to repetitive stress might lead to tearing muscle fibers or injuring tendons and ligaments too.
#4 Improved performance
A healthy body always performs better. Improper recovery makes you experience reduced endurance, delayed response time, and poor agility.
Can you deliver your peak performance with sore muscles? No, no one can do that. Proper feeding and optimum rest period allow the body to deliver improved performance.
Do you need long-term workout rest days?
So we discussed the importance of a good post-workout recovery routine but do you still need “rest days”?
What do you do when you are exhausted with regular office work? You take a long holiday, right? Alongside getting weekend off, your body still needs vacation time, the same goes for the workout recovery.
Rest Days are going to improve overall performance.
Many athletes know the importance of a good post-workout recovery routine but still, they experience the guilt of taking a day off.
Rest days are as important as training days.
Rest days allow time for the repair, rebuilding, and strengthening of muscle fibers.
Good rest days also saves the body from adapting to constant training and breaking plateau. Rest days give your body a sufficient space to bounce back to training with greater enthusiasm.
Recovery days should not be the reason for binge eating all junk food, staying conscious about caloric intake is still very important.
Injury vs. Soreness (DOMS)
No doubt, post-workout soreness can make you feel uncomfortable, but shouldn’t be acute pain. DOMS discomfort usually decreases within 48 to 72 hours.
Symptoms of an athletic injury may include:
- Sharp pain
- Tingling or numbness
- Areas of black or blue marks
- Pain that is not going away
We recomend you to see your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms.
Thanks for reading. Questions are welcomed in the comments as always. This site contains affiliate links as well as general health and fitness information. Please read my Medical Disclaimer and Writing Disclaimer for more information.