Going hard at the gym is always recommended. You want to make the most of your time and push yourself. After all, your body will not change if you don’t get into that “uncomfortable zone.” However, getting into good shape is about more than just pushing yourself at the gym. Once you have done the hard work, you must rest. This can be difficult to do because it’s a totally different mindset than the one you need to have while exercising. However, if you don’t recover properly, you won’t see the progress you want in your body. Here is why recovery is so important.
The Consequences of Lack of Recovery
When you exercise, you are stressing your body. While this is controlled stress that is good for you, it is still stress! Your body needs a break in order to heal itself. If you constantly push yourself to your limits, your body will eventually start to break down. This will lead to a loss in muscle mass, feelings of depression, and loss of performance. You may also have trouble sleeping and feel burned out. Since you want to avoid all of these things, it’s important to recover properly. Here is how.
Immediately after exercising, you need to refuel the glycogen stores you depleted during exercise. This will help your body begin the healing process. If you are lifting weights, then getting protein in quickly is a priority. If you are just looking to get in shape in general, then try to eat within an hour after exercise and make sure you have a good mix of carbs and protein with a small amount of fat. This is also an important time to drink plenty of water, especially if you did a lot of cardio.
Roll and Stretch
Foam rolling and stretching should be a part of your cooldown routine. This gives your body a chance to come back down from the high of exercise and get your heart rate back into a normal, resting range. Plus, tight muscles lead to injuries and can keep you from getting stronger. Foam rolling is a great way to release tension in your muscles since it is a form of myofascial massage. And stretching while your muscles are still warm will keep them from getting torn or strained.
Sleep is also an important part of recovery. You simply cannot lose weight or build muscle if you don’t get plenty of sleep. This means you need at least 7 hours of sleep per night. This may mean you need to make some changes in your schedule, but it will go a long way to helping you recover faster and reach your goals. While you sleep, your body gets a chance to repair all of the tears in your muscles that you caused when you lifted. It also gives your body a chance to regulate hormones, including stress hormones, that keep you from losing weight.
Remember that resting and recovering is just as important as your workout. Take days off in between your hard workouts and never work for the same muscle groups two days in a row. You will see your best results when you make rest and recovery a priority. It’s important to play hard and rest well!