If you want to be a champion, you've got to train like a champion. But achieving peak performance as an athlete means more than just training hard - you've got to recover intelligently as well.
In years past, proper recovery was simple - get enough sleep and eat well and you'd be fine. Today, however, there's all sorts of recovery techniques that can give you the edge you need.
Here's 10 ways to recover after a tough workout, ranging from old school to modern. Try them out for yourself and stick with what works for you.
10 Ways to Recover After a Tough Workout
When you strength train or exercise hard, you break down your muscles, which is critical to achieving the metabolic response that will help you grow stronger. But without proper sleep, your muscles won't have the chance to rebuild.
Aim for 8 hours a night of uninterrupted ZZZZ's. Sleep like a lamb so you can train like a lion.
Dehydration can lead to all sorts of ailments and symptoms, and one of those is impaired recovery from your workouts.
Keep a refillable BPA-free water bottle near you throughout the day so you can stay hydrated, and increase your intake during warmer months or when you're pushing yourself harder at the gym or outside of it.
3. Myofascial Release
Exercise can cause myofascial restrictions that can lead to tension, pain and restricted motion. Using tools like foam rollers, lacrosse balls, and recovery seats like Dry Rub Spicy may restore proper motion and aid in recovery.
Getting a massage doesn't just feel good, it's good for you, too. Regular massage can relieve chronic pain, increase blood flow, and aid in recovery. So the next time you hit the squat rack or running trails hard, schedule a massage as a mental and physical reward to yourself.
5. Eat Properly
Regardless of what nutrition protocol you're following - Flexible Dieting, Paleo, or anything else - you'll want to make sure you're fueling your body with healthy carbs, fats and protein to rebuild muscle and keep your energy levels sufficient to crush your workouts without storing extra fat.
6. Time Your Meals
Once you have what you're eating nailed down, you'll want to focus on the "when". Timing your meals so you have sufficient energy during your workouts while also getting your muscles the building blocks they need soon afterwards can help you begin the recovery process as soon as possible.
7. Take an Ice Bath or Cold Shower
Studies have shown that immersing yourself in cold water after exercise can reduce inflammation, reduce soreness and pain, and improve recovery. While it may not be the first thing you want to do after you finish your workout, it could make the difference between being sore and operating at your peak levels.
There's a reason why athletes across many sports dunk themselves in a cold ice bath after hard training sessions or competitions.
8. Power Nap
Naps aren't just for kids - studies show that napping after a workout can improve recovery. So grab your eye mask, find a comfy spot, and knock out a power nap at the office or wherever you can.
9. Wear Compression Garments
While they may not look the sexiest, wearing compression garments may help you recover after your workouts. The latest compression clothes include socks, shorts, pants, and shirts that are designed to improve blood flow and may aid in the recovery process.
10. Tart Cherry Juice
Tired or sore from a recent workout? Tart cherry juice has been shown to reduce inflammation and pain athletes felt after exercise. You can get a tart cherry supplements at most supplement stores as a way to get the benefit without all the sugar.