The 7 Best Ways To Recover From Your Workout

Recovery is a critical and often overlooked part of your fitness equation.

You work hard in the gym. Don’t forget to give your body a chance to rest, heal and recover so that it’s ready to perform for your next workout.

What exactly does recovery look like?

It involves a few things.

#1 Sleep

Sleep is important. It’s so important that it’s by far my most often recommended tool for clients to use to recover.

Get as much sleep as you can. I love getting nine and half hours. That’s my sweet spot for adequate sleep. You may need less. You may need more.

Do you know what the right amount of sleep is for you to operate at full capacity day after day? You need to discover this number for yourself, ASAP.

Start making it a priority to get your zzz’s Every. Single. Night.

#2 Hydrate

Water. Water. Water. Drink it.

Yes, tap water works just fine.

If you’re in the gym fill your water bottle up from the drinking fountain and suck it down on your drive home. If you’re doing loops at a local park it helps to keep a small cooler in your car with a cold bottle of water waiting for you post-workout.

Did you sweat a lot? Consider consuming some electrolytes.

#3 Refuel (with proper nutrition)

Eating properly was the one game changer that took me forever to figure out. As a runner putting in 5 or more miles a day I long held the belief that I could out-run my bad eating habits. Candy, sweets, too many slices of pizza? Not a problem, just tack on another mile or two to cover the difference.

Since I enjoyed running it didn’t seem like a punishment as much as it did a way to get two awesome things – more of the food I liked and more miles spent outdoors.

Unfortunately, my math was way off on this. How you refuel your body dictates how well you’ll recover. The faster you recover, the better you’ll perform at your next workout.

Nancy Clark, MS RD CSSD, has a ton of information on how to refuel with proper nutrition. Check out this, this and this for more sports nutrition advice.

#4 Deload

Deload is just another way of saying you need to take your training intensity in the gym down a few notches for a full week. Not just for a day or two, but an entire seven days.

Deloads are great when they coincide with family vacations or work conferences. Trying to find ways to keep up your normal fitness routine when you’re away from home is difficult. Take advantage of these trips by working in some recovery time.

How often do you need to deload? Every 6-8 weeks.

You’ll be surprised how good the results are when you give your body the rest it needs. You’ll typically come back to the gym stronger than when you left.

I know the last thing you want to think about when you’re in a training flow is taking a break. You’re feeling great in the gym. You’ve got a streak going. You’re checking all the boxes on your fitness checklist.

Trust me, your body needs it. Plan for your deload weeks now and put them on your calendar.

#5 Stretch

I can hear you already. You don’t like to stretch. You didn’t like it in grade school, you didn’t like it before practice in college and you certainly don’t like it now that you’re an adult and can choose not to do it.

If you haven’t figured out that stretching after a hard workout is good for your body, this one blog post isn’t going to solve that for you. What I can do is suggest alternative means for getting your stretching in that may not feel like the boringly painful stretches you remember from your youth.

How do you feel about yoga? Do twenty minutes of that post-workout.

Foam rolling is another great ways to get in some much needed stretching. I recommend starting with the rollers that have a smooth surface.

foam roller and yoga mat

#6 Rest between strength training sessions

Did you lift weights today? You’ll want to wait 24-72 hours before you lift again.

Why? You’re body needs time to heal itself.

Strength training breaks down muscle tissue. Resting your muscles, by not lifting for a day or two, gives them adequate time to heal and get stronger.

#7 Your recovery method

This one is on you to figure out. And it will be well worth it once you do unlock this recovery method.

Maybe you need an ice bath. Perhaps a massage. Chocolate milk post-workout may be your secret recovery tool. You’ll never know until you experiment and determine which recovery method both your body and mind react positively to.

Got more questions about how to best recover from your workouts? Contact me.