Better Recovery = Better Results. 19 Quick Ideas to help you recover from training

February is recovery month at Catalyst. We believe that recovery is the single most overlooked aspect when it comes to fitness, especially in the fast-paced and high energy environment of New York City. When we ask our team how we can better help our Semi-Private Training and Personal Training clients, their first answer is always "recovery."

This article will share 19 quick tips on recovery, in no specific order. My hope is that you can use these tips to spark new habits, or use these ideas to implement better recovery strategies into your routine.

Of course, the main pillars of recovery will always be NUTRITION, SLEEP, STRESS-MANAGEMENT, AND APPROPRIATE TRAINING. These three pillars are absolutely crucial, and no "quick tip" can replace these. 

With that in mind, here are some things that may be able to help you recover better to perform better. Got questions? Shoot me and email at [email protected] and I'd love to help you brainstorm.

  1. The four variables that most affect sleep are temperature, light, sleeping surface (mattress & pillow), and timing. If you're having trouble with your sleep, consider these four variables first. 
  2. Magnesium is an important mineral that helps with muscle relaxation. Supplementing with magnesium before bed can help you sleep better and balance important minerals. Another great idea is to take a magnesium bath. 
  3. Self-Myofasical Release: Tissue quality is incredibly important for long-term results and injury prevention. Using a foam roller, lacrosse ball, etc. can go a long way towards prevention of soft-tissue restrictions and muscle tightness. 
  4. Avoid blue-light 1-2 hours before bed: blue light, from televisions or smartphones, inhibits our body's production of melatonin, a critical chemical that signals sleep to the body. Blue light exposure before bed make its harder to fall asleep, and also hinders our ability to sleep deeply. If you must use your phone or watch television before bed, consider purchasing blue-light blocking glasses. 
  5. What gets measured gets managed - track your sleep! I've been tracking my sleep with Oura Ring. Seeing the data on the quality of my sleep (how much time spent in deep and REM sleep) has helped me be more accountable to the variables affecting sleep. 
  6. Consider your training frequency: Too much training means that you'll always be in a state of under-recovery, and can eventually lead to stagnation or injury. But the opposite can also be problematic - Not training enough. If you're training too infrequently, each time you train you'll have lost the adaptation gained from the last training session. This means that each training session will produce too much soreness and stress. If you're having trouble getting into a routine, you may concern more frequent training. 
  7. Meditation is something that I believe every person should learn how to do. It's as important as exercise. Meditation is simply a process by which you train your mind to be more aware. It's not some "woo woo" New Age stuff that's only for hippies - it's easy to learn, and free from any kind of religious or mystical influence. I recommend the Headspace or Waking Up apps to learn. 
  8. Block all light in your bedroom. Sleeping in a pitch black room will help you get the most from your sleep. Research shows that even a small amount of light can affect sleep quality. 
  9. Try supplementing with CBD oil. CBD oil reduces inflammation in the body, and encourages parasympathetic nervous system (rest & digest) activity. Do your research, of course but this is a supplement that many of us at Catalyst have been having tremendous success with. 
  10. Use lighter workouts to maintain training frequency: earlier I mentioned that infrequent training can be just as problematic as overtraining. Light training sessions are a great way to solve this problem. Doing 5-8 sets of 10 light kettelbell swings, a few turkish getups, and then a bit of movement is a great example of a light training session that will leave you feeling rejuvenated. 
  11. Acupunture can balance the body's systems, and help with sleep, mood, digestion, injuries, and more. 
  12. Post-workout is the best time to eat starchy carbs. Depending on your fitness goals, you may or may not include starchy carbohydrates in your diet. But if you, the few hours following a workout is the best time to eat these.
  13. Go to bed and wake up around the same time each day. Maintaining a good circadian rhythm will help you sleep better at night and feel more energized during the day. Personally, I love to sleep in on the weekends, but I've learned that this is counter-productive, as it leads to sleeplessness on Sunday nights, and lowered sleep quality throughout the week. 
  14. Floss, and take care of your gums. Gum health has been correlated to heart health, and unhealthy gums can be a source of chronic inflammation. Flossing your teeth each night, and keeping your teeth and gums healthy, will help you lead a healthier life. 
  15. Minimize alcohol consumption. I'm not here to preach or tell you how to live your life, but if you're regularly consuming more than 1-2 drinks, it's very likely that this is having a significant negative affect on your body's ability to recover from exercise. Alcohol affects sleep, liver function, and more. 
  16. Drink lots of water. We hear it all the time, and yet, it's so easy to forget.
  17. Shut your mouth.  Overbreathing, and mouth-breathing, are common habits in our modern society. I've written about Buteyko breathing, a technique to encourage nasal breathing and more healthy breath, here:
  18. Make sure you're eating enough. As a certified nutrition coach, I frequently run into folks who simply aren't eating enough, regardless of their fitness goals. If you consistently feel low energy, are often hungry, and aren't making much progress in the gym, this is something to consider. Seek professional guidance if you're not sure. 
  19. Be grateful. If you're reading this article, you have so much to be grateful for in this world. Gratitude helps change the way your brain perceives the world, and can be a great way to manage stress, and live a happier life.


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