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This Is What Your Workout Is Missing

September 15, 2022

Recovery is an essential piece of your workout – and it’s probably one that you aren’t paying enough attention to. Regardless of how hard you exercise, you need recovery time to improve your strength, speed and agility.

All exercise creates tiny tears in your muscles, and your body sends reinforcements to those areas. That is how we build strength. Recovery time is vital because it allows your body to rebuild and cement your work into muscle memory.

Take a Recovery Day

Recovery doesn’t mean doing nothing. A recovery day means light physical activity. Ideally, you choose something fun that provides a mental break from your routine.

  • Choose a light exercise that is not overly taxing.
  • Do not work the same muscles that you recently exhausted. Pushing the same muscles to exhaustion every day leads to overuse injuries.
  • Do an activity that is different from your normal workout. Your rest day could include an easy run, a pilates class, paddle boarding, walking or bicycling with your family.
  • Consider choosing something that’s fun to help remove the mental stress from your workout routine.

Get Enough Sleep

Not getting enough sleep means missing out on workout gains. Aim to get seven to eight hours of sleep most nights. When you wake up, you should feel refreshed and ready to go. During the day, you shouldn’t feel like you need a nap. If tiredness persists, talk to your doctor. You might have sleep apnea or another sleep disturbance. A sleep study could unlock some answers.

Your sleep could be disturbed by a handful of factors, including:

  • Too much TV before bed
  • Alcohol before bed
  • Going to sleep at a different time every night

Nutrients

Focus on protein, then healthy carbs. A best-choice carbohydrate aids in recovery and provides fiber, vitamins and other nutrients. Consider sweet potatoes, squash, bananas, blueberries, and other fruits and vegetables.

If you are eating a balanced diet, you are most likely getting the micronutrients you need. Most people don’t need bloodwork to test nutrient levels, unless they are experiencing symptoms such as:

  • Stress fractures
  • Actual fractures
  • If you are osteopenic or on certain medicines, you may not be absorbing certain nutrients. Ask your doctor if this is a concern.

Stay Hydrated

Replace water and electrolytes after every workout. Most adults are not drinking enough water.

  • The quickest way to check if you’re getting enough water is to peek at your urine. If it’s clear, you’re in the clear.
  • Also consider how many times you are going to the bathroom. If you can work for three to four hours and not use the bathroom, you are probably not drinking enough.
  • Vitamins such as B12 will turn your urine bright yellow, so disregard the color check if you’re taking these.
  • If your body is craving salt, that is a sign you are low on electrolytes. If you don't have blood pressure issues, add it back in with some pretzels or a small Gatorade.

Don’t Train to Your Maximum Every Day

Most athletes do periodization, which means changing variables in their daily workout. Depending on where they are in a training cycle, their goals differ. Even if you’re not a professional athlete, strive to achieve workout goals. Switch up your workout periodically to avoid risking injury.

If you don’t feel like working out intensely, this could signify that you have been pushing yourself too hard. Build in a few weeks of lighter activity. If you’ve had an injury or a sickness, including COVID, devote a few weeks to less intense workouts.

Don’t Do the Same Workout Daily

Your body gets efficient. If you want gains, challenge that efficiency. The body gets bored and lazy. In between recovery days, try different, more challenging workouts to give your body the variation it needs.

  • Lift heavier on certain days, and don’t do as many reps
  • Tackle endurance work
  • Trade your steady pace on the treadmill for interval work

If you push your body too hard doing the same exercises and work repeatedly without recovery days, your body will let you know. Nagging aches and pains show up. Likewise, you might get an upper respiratory tract infection.

If you feel like you devote a lot of time to working out but are not meeting the benchmarks you expected, take this as a sign that you need to devote more days to recovery.

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