Whether you're a runner, footy player, cyclist, fighter, or lifetime weightlifter, one thing remains certain: recovery is the key to athletic performance, training adaptation, and subsequent results.
When training for specific goals, no matter if it's endurance, weight loss, or strength, it can be easy to focus solely on the training and forget that what we do outside our training is as important, if not more. Naturally, it's in the gym we feel that we are making progress, but the pros know; that's not the whole truth. The problem is that without adequate rest and recovery, you risk compromising your immune health and suffering from fatigue, and you'll put yourself at a higher risk of sustaining an injury. Not only does overtraining result in declining athletic performance, but if you train a specific muscle before it's had time to recover, more so than wasting your time, you'll risk pulling a muscle. These things will only set you back further from achieving your end goal. But how do you know? If you're constantly sore, you're overdoing it. It's unintuitive to rest when you want to progress, but sometimes it's the only way forward.
From ice baths to magnesium soaks and floats, there's no denying that alternative recovery methods are on the rise. We'll cover that in another article. Yet, nothing can beat the tried and tested methods, like quality nutrition and rest. Let's look into the top 5 proven tips to maximise recovery.
1. Protein Powder
Bit of a no-brainer, but imperative for nutrient recovery nonetheless, protein is an essential macronutrient known to help repair tissue, build muscle, and make crucial enzymes and hormones. It'll also keep you full and satisfied, which might help you avoid foods that negatively impact recovery, such as fast food and donuts.
For the ultimate post-workout replenishment, we recommend using Evolve Reload. This 5-star recovery matrix boasts an all-in-one approach to maximizing your recovery window, thanks to a premium formula that delivers quality nutrients that work synergistically. In each serve of Evolve Reload, you will reap the rewards of fast-absorbing hydrolysed WPI, rapid carbs, creatine, l-glutamine, and BCAAs for the ultimate accelerated recovery.
Dehydration can significantly affect your muscles' ability to repair themselves efficiently. When you exercise, your muscles become stronger by being broken down and then rebuilt with the help of muscle protein synthesis. However, your recovery activity slows down significantly when dehydrated, ceasing protein synthesis.
Water is also responsible for flushing toxins from the body and carrying nutrients into the cells for optimal recovery and health, body temperature regulation, and pH balance. It aids with muscle tension, soreness, and fatigue which is a classic complaint from those who 'train hard' or just don't prioritise their exercise recovery.
So, how much water do you need? Depending on physical activity and temperature, guidelines recommend consuming 2 to 3L of water per day to remain adequately hydrated and healthy; however, this does vary from person to person. You'd be surprised how many people drink too little just because they don't like the taste! Fortunately, there are many ways to simultaneously flavour your water and fuel your recovery. Our go-to option is Damage Control from Evolve.
Loaded with Essential Amino Acids (EAAs) to fuel your recovery and support muscle protein synthesis, Damage Control is a refreshingly delicious way to keep hydrated while giving your body the necessary nutrients to increase recovery.
Back-to-back training sessions can be great, but without adequate rest, they'll put you further from your goal instead of closer.
Athletes who exercise intensely require even more sleep than the average person, as sleep deprivation significantly impairs muscle recovery by interfering with the body's inflammatory response and the hormone production needed for muscle growth. Growth hormone is released during sleep, and while we break down the muscle during training, we build it back up at night. But sure, we get it. It's hard to get enough sleep between a busy schedule and social commitments. However, if you don't prioritise it, you're not prioritising results. Find ways to increase your sleep efficiency, as without knowing it, most adults clock an average of 45 min of awake time during sleep.
Looking for a bit of assistance to increase sleep efficiency and recovery? Try Evolve's Magnesium RX. This highly sought-after formula boasts a mix of ingredients that help improve functionality and performance, support muscle soreness, stress, anxiety, and certainly sleep.
Protein needs depend on your age and activity level; however, the recommendation is 0.8-1g of protein per kilo of body weight per day for general health. You should aim for 1.6-2.4g/kg for muscle growth.
A balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, protein (meat or plant-based), and grains will support your nutrient needs, reducing the risk of nutrient deficiencies that may impair muscle recovery. Electrolytes such as magnesium, potassium, calcium, and sodium are used for muscle contraction and need to be replenished. A diet full of healthy foods will also help your immune system keep you strong, help combat brain fog, improve focus, and increase energy levels. While consuming the occasional treat is ok, overconsuming overly processed foods may come between you and your recovery, leaving you feeling lethargic, weak, and not performing at your peak.
There's no one-size-fits-all approach for recovery. It depends on your training schedule, what you do for a living, and what your lifestyle looks like. Rest days are crucial for recovery as each time you exercise, your muscles require rest time to heal and strengthen. We typically talk about 24-48 hours in terms of muscle recovery. For strength gain, it's less than that. If you just ran a marathon, please take a day off.
The main pillars of recovery are nutrition, hydration, and sleep, no matter what exercise you're doing. It's ok to take a day off. Your muscles, bones, joints, blood pressure, and immune health will thank you for it.