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To get an idea of what I'm trying to do and why I think it's possible, check out the following entries, they'll help get you up to speed.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tricks #2 and #3 - simple recovery aids

The best recovery drink is also probably the cheapest!

It's pretty damn hard (if not impossible) to motivate for an intense workout if you're still feeling the effects of the last one.  Furthermore, it's usually counterproductive.  It's during the rest between efforts that the body rebuilds - repairing micro-tears in the muscle, increasing number of fast twitch muscle fibers, etc etc.  I won't go into all the physiological details here (one reason being that I don't know all of them...) - but suffice to say if you're working intensely every session, it's important that you're able to recover quickly.  As I've mentioned before, the fact that you have a whole day off (ideally) between workouts is a great start - but there are a few more things that need to be considered to make sure you're ready to go in 48 hours....

#2 Stretching.  If you google 'stretching in recovery' you'll have plenty to read on the subject.  Taking just the first link ( - for me anyway) and peeling your eyes away from the 'gallery of the day' on the right, you'll be able to read all about why it is important.  In case you can't be bothered - here's the gist:
After an intensive workout, muscles need to repair themselves and fibers that are entangled impede the recovery process. When you stretch a muscle, tension in the fiber increases, aligning the disorganized tissue in the same line -- like when you pull on a wrinkled shirt. In addition, it keeps the blood flowing and tendons flexible.
Studies have shown that performing stretching excercises reduces the risk of injury and soreness. It also reduces soreness felt the next day by decreasing the build-up of lactic acid in muscles. Stretching can also prevent cramps; some muscles, like calves, have a tendency to cramp up more than usual.
Committing to a stretching program is therefore pretty important.  I've got a 6 or 7 'move' sequence that I do every day that I workout, ideally soon afterwords when my muscles are already warm.  I use some principals of yoga (nose breathing, focus on the breath to deepen the posture and the idea of proper alignment) but these would be uneccessary for those unfamiliar with the practice.  I'll try to take some pictures of my routine to include in a later post.

#3 Recovery Meal:  Research shows that for about an hour after a hard workout (a bit longer as the duration of the workout starts to increase beyond an hour), your body is much more efficent at utilizing protien to repair muscles and carbs to replace used muscle glycogen, the preferred fuel source for high intensity aerobic activities.  So if you're going to be engaging in said activities every other day, it's wise to include a specific 'recovery meal' into your training schedule.  Now you can spend ALOT of money on nutritional supplements which are marketed as the perfectly formulated recovery food but the bottom line is that you don't need to.  If you're eating healthy enough to make sure you've got adequate stores of vitamins, minerals, and trace elements from your regular diet, then all you really need is the proper ratio of protien and carbs.  It just so happens that, at least according to (I'm just going for consistency here people!  I truly have no affiliation with the site (:   ), the number one recovery food is plain ol' chocolate milk.

Now I personally don't buy chocolate milk (my kids would drink too much of it and I try to stay away from overuse of corn based sweeteners), so I end up using regular 1% milk and dumping a few spoonfuls of regular sugar in to get the carbs up.  My son Keegan calls it sweet milk.  Although I don't have a glass after every workout (often I workout in the middle of the day while at school) I make sure to have one after my longer weekend workouts, even when a meal is soon to follow.

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