You set aside time and make the effort to push your body forward for better health and fitness, so why not also make time for it to rest and recover? Many people think workout recovery means hanging around doing nothing, but that's not the case. If you're strategic about your recovery it won't feel like you're just sitting on the sidelines. Maximize your performance and that of your clients by finding a balance in your efforts with these recovery tips.
Recovery time is just as important as each workout, so treat it as such. Put it on your calendar; add it to your training schedule. Whether you're planning your own training schedule or one for a client, make sure each muscle group and the body as a whole have time to recuperate.
A varied workout schedule not only keeps things interesting but also gives your muscles a chance to rest and recover. If you worked your legs hard on Monday, give those muscles a break before challenging them again. You can have more weight training planned, but move on to a different set of muscle groups (back, chest, arms) for the next day or two. If you're moving on to cardio, skip running or stairs and opt for swimming to reduce the strain on your legs.
Assess at the bigger picture as well to ensure your clients avoid overtraining. Every 4-5 weeks schedule a week of active recovery. Clients don't have to skip all of their workouts for the week, but do hit pause on powerful workouts like heavy lifting and high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Active recovery means you can still be active but at less intensity so your muscles can work on repairs. Some great workouts for active recovery may include:
Set your body up for success with the necessary nutrition. Just as it needs good food to function day-to-day, it also needs the right nutrients to recover from work you're putting it through.
Start out with a solid base. If your client is skimping on calories or basic nutrients in an attempt to lose weight, remind them that their body simply won't have enough energy to take care of itself after a workout. Encourage a healthy, well-balanced diet of whole foods that skip the overly processed junk.
Post-workout nutrition is just as vital as pre-workout. Think about it: It's been a few hours since you last ate, you just burned through a bunch of calories, and you have nutrients that need restocking. Try to consume foods with plenty of protein and complex carbs within about an hour of your workout. This will help you rebuild the muscle tissue that was broken down during your workout and replace glycogen stores. Consider some of the following:
Protein shake and a banana
Greek yogurt, granola, and berries
Almond butter and a banana
Turkey and cheese plus an apple
Pita and hummus
Getting a good night's sleep may seem obvious, but it's worth the reminder. Sleep is the ultimate time for your body to heal itself and prep for the new day. Getting your muscles fresh stores of protein and complex carbs in your post-workout nutrition is great, but your body also needs downtime to finish the rebuilding process. Encourage clients to develop healthy sleep habits to support optimal performance. Review our top tips for successful sleep in the handout at the end of this article.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Water is a key piece to maintaining a well-functioning body. A few critical tasks include:
Transporting nutrients throughout your body. You went through the effort to consume quality food, so make sure it can get to where it needs to go.
Regulating body temperature. You're going to get hot during your workout; when properly hydrated your body will be able to produce enough sweat to help you cool you down.
Lubricating joints, eyes, spinal cord, and other areas of the body. Fluid motion is important throughout your workout, especially in your joints.
Dehydration is no joke. It not only hinders your body's regular functions, it also reduces your workout performance and hampers recovery. If you go into a workout already depleted, your body has to fight extra hard when trying work in attempting to protect and repair itself. In addition to being hydrated as you go into your workout, consider drinking a sports drink after a tough workout to help replenish electrolytes and intake extra carbohydrates. Both of these will help your body bounce back more efficiently.
Foam rolling may not prevent sore muscles after a hard workout, but it can help lessen the amount of soreness you feel and possibly speed up recovery. Consider foam rolling before and after exercise. Include foam rolling as part of your client's warm up routine to help them loosen up for optimal range of motion during their workout. Then follow up again after the workout to smooth out any tight spots, encourage blood flow for recovery, and simply feel good during the cool down process.
Achieving less stress seems to make its way onto every list imaginable, but that's because it can honestly make your life better all around, including with workout recovery. Stress can have a variety of negative effects on your body, mentally and physically. With a calm mind and a healthy body, you'll have a lot less working against you.
Building a well-rounded fitness routine is important for your overall health and fitness and something you should impress upon clients. Rest and recovery are just as important as the workout because nothing ruins progress faster than burnout or an injury from overtraining.
Ready to build the best recovery programs for your clients? As an ISSA Exercise Recovery Specialist, you'll personalize recovery techniques based on thorough assessments and the individualized needs of every client. Custom training like this keeps clients coming back because they know YOU put THEM first.
ISSA's Exercise Recovery Specialization unlocks the science behind recovery techniques. As a Certified Exercise Recovery Specialist, personal trainers can apply this information to their exercise prescription and programs, helping athletes and general fitness clients alike.