Athletes and sports people who perform best are often not the ones who train hardest but those who recover well.
Structured recovery is as important as your planned training sessions and should – along with proper diet – be factored into to any good fitness regime.
Health, fitness and high performance rely on a holistic lifestyle approach in which rest and recovery go hand in hand.
Your recovery programme is every bit as important as your training programme. A report from the Irish National Coaching and Training Centre defines recovery as “the process the athlete goes through to return the body to normal physiological function, the reduction of muscle soreness, the removal of psychological symptoms and reduction in fatigue.”
The goal of a good recovery strategy is to reduce training fatigue to a point where you are feeling fresh going into the next session.
This is achieved through a balanced mix of passive and active recovery.
Passive recovery or rest includes to sleep and relaxation techniques such listening to music, meditation, massage or simply taking time to switch off from day to day exertions and stress.
A well laid out recovery programme is vital. It’s important to understand that each training session causes damage to the body – which is good for progress so long as time is allowed for the damage to be adequately repaired. Structured rest periods between sessions enable the muscles to rebuild, strengthen and grow but without adequate rest the body will eventually break down, leading to fatigue, injury or illness.
Many experts are cheerleaders for active cool-down, involving low intensity exercise to aid recovery from intense workouts. This aids the removal of what’s called lactic acid, a by-product of strenuous exercise. Building entire recovery workouts – such as light jogging, cycling, yoga, Pilates etc – into your regime to separate heavy and intense sessions is also recommended by many experts. Such active recovery workouts can ensure that you begin your next intense session in a non-fatigued state and maximise your results.
Structured recovery which is tailored to you, in conjunction with good nutrition and hydration, will allow you to perform to the best of your ability and achieve your goals.