Factor 8 – Recovery
So we’ve gone through 7 factors that you can directly apply to your current programming and put into action in the gym straight away, hopefully they helped.
But the one missing piece of the puzzle is arguably the most important, so those of you that have made it this far down the page well done!
See, muscle isn’t actually built in the gym. Did I not mention that?
Muscle tissue is broken down through training, and built back up, repaired and grown through your recovery mechanisms. These recovery mechanisms are vital to your progress so it’s really important you start paying attention to them if you’re not already.
To be honest, recovery as a topic probably warrants an entire article to itself, but for the purposes of trying to keep this relatively short I’ll just give you the highlights.
The first thing I think about in terms of recovery – and the thing I always try to optimise with myself and my clients before I even consider training or nutrition is sleep.
Sleep is the human body’s best recovery mechanism and probably the most important thing you can do outside of the gym to aid growth.
Not getting enough sleep will mean you’ll be sorer for longer, increasing the amount of time you’ll need to take between sessions in order to get effective workouts in.
You’ll also notice a decrease in energy (obviously), a decrease in strength and a general ‘can’t be arsed’ attitude to training. Not good if you want to add muscle.
Sometimes a lack of sleep can’t be avoided, I understand that. However a lot of the time, and for a lot of people, it’s a very avoidable problem.
Simple things like making sure your room is as dark as possible, stop scrolling through facebook in bed and make sure you put all electronic devices to one side at least an hour before bed.
Other (more debatable) things that have worked for me and a few clients are things like eating carbs in the last meal before bed (this helps to release the hormone serotonin which can have a relaxing affect on the brain), including zinc & magnesium in your supplement stack, and generally just training your b*llocks off during the day so you’re more sleepy at night.
I’m not claiming to be an expert on sleep optimisation, again, these are just some things that seem to have helped me and some of my clients.
Next on the recovery check list you’ve got nutrition and hydration.
The first thing I do every single morning (in fact it’s written in my morning routine schedule) is to drink 4 pints of water in the first hour of being up. Yes, I do p*ss like a racehorse early in the morning but you won’t believe the energy I have compared to days where I don’t hydrate. It also massively helps my strength and endurance in the gym, which is a big deal.
Nutrition, again, is an absolute minefield of a topic so I’m not going to go too in depth with it.
Just make sure you’ve got a sufficient amount of protein and overall calories in to recovery from the workouts you’re doing, and to fuel future workouts you’re going to hit. If you need more advice on nutrition – there are seriously millions of articles, videos, posts, arguments, message boards etc… it’s all at your finger tips. Of course, if you’d like to pick my brain (I’m no nutritionist but I’m happy to have a discussion) feel free to message me.
The last recovery mechanism I’m going to talk about (and there are more than this, but as I said I’m giving you the highlights) is mobility.
Now, everyone always switches off when I talk about mobility, eyes glaze over and you can see that familiar “I don’t need mobility” look etched all over their face.
But let me be absolutely clear: The biggest game changer in terms of physique progression and injury prevention of 2017 has been my attention to mobility.
Foam rolling, massage therapy, chiropractic treatment, strengthening exercises for things like the lower traps, rotator cuffs, hip flexors, stretching religiously…
It all loosens the fascia that surrounds muscle tissue and allows your muscles more room to grow. So why wouldn’t you pay attention to it?