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You work hard inside and outside of the gym, but do you ever really recover? As we go, go, go, sometimes we forget that we need to heal, heal, heal our bodies. Use these three keys—nourishment, time and sleep—to make sure that your body gets the TLC it needs to recoup so it can continue to perform at the level you want it.
The first step for proper recovery is to eat something after your workout. “Eating immediately after is important for recovery after any workout,” says Joseph E. Herrera, MD, director of sports medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York City. “The optimal time to replenish any energy stores is within the first 15 to 30 minutes after a workout.” Usually eating a high-glycemic index food paired with protein immediately after is recommended. This pairing allows for your body to have a spike in insulin that helps deliver the protein needed to replenish your muscle cells. Good post-workout snacks are cottage cheese paired with gummy bears or a protein shake made with fruit such as this Cherry Limeade Recovery Shake.
Now it’s time to give your body time. Pounding your body with workout after workout can lead to overtraining. “Time is very important. Depending on the type of workout the time between exercise sessions may vary. For example, during weight training a shorter rest between sets maybe more than sufficient to overcome any lactic acid buildup that occurs, whereas a week of rest may be required after an intense workout such as running a marathon,” Dr. Herrera says. The more intense your workout the more rest you need to recover. So don’t follow-up one day of HIIT training with another, in this case, allow 48 hours before doing HIIT again.
Finally, get some sleep.“Sleep is a crucial part for recovery,” Dr. Herrera says. If you are having a difficult time getting the recommended 7–9 hours of sleep a night, improve your sleep habits. Making sure that you use your bed for only sleep and sex, you are sleeping in a dark room and you limit use of electronics an hour before bed. If you are suffering from insomnia, look at your training. Are you training in the morning or at night? Evening exercisers tend to have a more difficult time sleeping than morning exercisers. Maybe you are training too much. Inability to sleep is a sign of overreaching.
Remember, train, eat, wait, and sleep. Then repeat. Your body will thank you.