We all know that crushing our workouts is important for our health and fitness goals, but have you ever stopped to consider the importance of recovery? That’s right, rest and recovery are just as crucial as the actual workout itself. So much so, that is one of the main pillars of an Iron Nomads retreat, right after movement and nutrition (Who doesn’t love a good nap after lunch). Today, we’re going to dive into three key components of recovery: sleep, nutrition, and stretching & foam rolling.
First up, sleep. We’ve all heard the adage “You snooze, you lose”, but when it comes to fitness, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, the amount and quality of sleep you get can make or break your progress. When you sleep, your body goes into repair mode, repairing damaged tissues and releasing growth hormones that are essential for muscle growth. So, if you’re skimping on sleep, you’re basically robbing yourself of those gains.
Iron Nomads’ top tip: Assess your evening routine and make sure you are doing the following:
- You go to bed at roughly the same time every night ( including weekends ). Bonus points for also getting up around the same time every morning.
- Make sure there are a few hours between dinner and lights out. When you eat a large meal close to bedtime, your body has to work hard to digest the food, which can disrupt your sleep. Eating a heavy meal can also cause heartburn, which can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.
- Journaling or making a to-do list before bedtime is your friend. Get those thoughts, and fears, and process your day out on paper signaling to your mind that it is time to relax.
- Sleep in a cool room. The National Sleep Foundation recommends a temperature range of 15.6-19.4°C (60-67°F) for optimal sleep.
- No devices in the bedroom. Beds are for sleeping and cuddling not socializing or working.
Next up, nutrition. We all know that abs are made in the kitchen, but did you know that your post-workout meal can actually help with recovery? That’s right, when you work out, your muscles use up glycogen stores and protein, and eating a meal that’s high in carbohydrates and protein within 30 minutes of your workout can help replenish those stores and kickstart the recovery process. So, don’t skimp on that post-workout meal, and make sure it’s packed with nutrient-dense foods to give your body the fuel it needs.
Iron Nomads’ top tip: Assess your nutrition and make sure you are doing the following:
- Eat regularly throughout the day. Especially if you want to see gains and muscle hypertrophy (who doesn’t), you should be eating 3-4 times a day. Ladies, I am looking at you.
- Ensure each meal has a high-quality source of protein.
- Hydrate yo’self. We love to start each day with a glass of water and hydration salts BEFORE the morning caffeine hit. I promise you, this will really help things like energy balance throughout the day and brain fog.
- Minimize trans fats in your diet. Trans fat is a type of unsaturated fat that is created by adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils, which increases their shelf life but has been shown to raise levels of bad cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease. Food that normally contains trans fat are fried foods (such as fried chicken, french fries, and onion rings), baked goods (such as cakes, cookies, and pastries), snack foods (such as crackers and chips), and margarine and other spreads.
Last but not least, let’s talk about stretching & foam rolling. We get it, stretching might not be the most exciting part of your workout routine, but it’s essential for preventing injury and aiding in recovery. When you stretch, you increase blood flow to your muscles, which can help with recovery and reduce soreness. Plus, stretching can help improve your range of motion, making your workouts more effective in the long run.
Stretching involves elongating and extending the muscles in the body to improve flexibility, range of motion, and overall physical performance.
Foam rolling – this is a self-myofascial release technique that involves using a foam roller to apply pressure to specific points on the body to help relieve muscle tension, reduce soreness, and improve mobility.
The benefits of stretching include:
- Improved flexibility and range of motion: Stretching can help improve the flexibility and range of motion of your muscles and joints, which can help reduce the risk of injury and improve physical performance.
- Reduced muscle tension and soreness: Stretching can help reduce muscle tension and soreness by increasing blood flow and oxygen delivery to the muscles.
- Improved posture: Stretching can help improve your posture by correcting muscle imbalances and reducing tension in the muscles that support your spine.
- Reduced stress and improved relaxation: Stretching can have a calming effect on the body and mind, helping to reduce stress and promote relaxation.
- Improved circulation: Stretching can help improve circulation by increasing blood flow to the muscles and promoting the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the body’s tissues.
The benefits of foam rolling include:
- Improved flexibility and range of motion: Foam rolling can help break up adhesions and knots in the muscles, allowing them to move more freely.
- Increased circulation: By applying pressure to the muscles, foam rolling can help increase blood flow to the area, which can help speed up recovery and reduce inflammation.
- Reduced soreness and fatigue: Foam rolling can help reduce muscle soreness and fatigue by promoting blood flow and oxygen delivery to the muscles.
- Improved performance: By reducing muscle tension and soreness, foam rolling can help improve overall performance and reduce the risk of injury during exercise.
- Increased relaxation: Foam rolling can also have a calming effect on the body and mind, helping to reduce stress and improve sleep quality.
So, there you have it, folks. Recovery isn’t just a buzzword, it’s essential for reaching your fitness goals. Ensure you’re getting enough sleep, fueling your body with nutritious food, and taking the time to foam roll before your workouts and stretch afterward. Your body will thank you, and you’ll be one step closer to crushing your fitness goals.
Now go get those gains, but don’t forget to rest and recover like a boss.