You have just finished a long, grueling, and productive workout. You hit your legs, your arms, and your core. Heck, you even threw in the tedious but always-important cardio exercises. You are absolutely spent, both mentally and physically, as you fully embrace the typical post-workout endorphins that flood the brain, begging you to come back for more.
While many people in this situation would be satisfied with what they have accomplished, and proudly (albeit gingerly) waltz out of the gym, they are missing one of the key ingredients to a successful workout.
Perhaps more so than the ability to push oneself in the gym, it is unbelievably important to be able to bounce back to full strength right away. What is the point of having the workout of a lifetime if it is going to put you out of commission for a week and a half?
This makes it almost impossible to develop a consistent routine, which drastically minimizes one’s potential for body fat loss, muscle gain, and performance boost. The people who find that a good workout leaves them taking the elevator to the second floor for a week are neglecting a proper post-training recovery routine.
Effective post-training recovery routines are instrumental in determining whether or not someone can consistently train at a high level. The people who accomplish all of their fitness goals do so not only during their workout, but after it as well. Here are a few of the tried-and-true ways to recover after completing a training session.
Sometimes it is best to stick to the classics. After all, there is a reason they are classics. Their effectiveness and convenience make it appealing to the masses. Stretching is the Tom Brady of post-training recovery routines. It has been around forever, it has always been effective, and likely always will be. However, if you are looking for a safe bet, both on Sundays and after a workout, these two stretches can serve as ol’ reliable.
As any serious athletic trainer will point out, stretching after a workout is key to several different areas of performance. The obvious benefit is increasing flexibility and range of motion. A person who fails to properly stretch out after a workout is decreasing his or her flexibility, minimizing room for growth.
The people who look the best and perform the best during a workout are often not the most naturally athletic. Rather, these are the most devoted to their flexibility. It is a telling truth that, contrary to popular belief, people such as bodybuilders are often some of the most flexible gym-goers out there, as this allows them to reach fitness heights that others cannot.
Increased mobility is instrumental in determining what a person’s potential is. It doesn’t take an hour-long hot yoga session. Light static stretches for the upper and lower body is all a person needs in order to maintain/increase range of motion and flexibility. You can only become as fit as your body will allow you to be, and post-training is the most integral time to stretch out tight and fatigued muscles.
While stretching has its obvious benefits to any fitness routine, it is a good way to help alleviate one of the main deterrents for frequent gym going: soreness. Aching muscles can keep even the mightiest of training partners out of the gym and stuck on the couch. With proper foam rolling, however, it becomes much easier to bounce back from a grueling training routine.
The main target of foam rolling is the fascia. Fascia is the connective tissue that envelops any and all of the muscles. After strenuous exercise, without foam rolling, the fascia’s fibers tend to latch onto and become entangled with nerves and muscles. This is what causes the pain and lack of mobility felt at one point or another after a workout. Foam rolling serves to break up the jumbled fascia that causes this discomfort.
Additionally, it can go hand in hand with stretching, the elder statesman of recovery routines. Studies have shown that foam rolling prior to stretching increases the effectiveness of the stretches, as the loosened fascia allows the person to reach deeper and become more flexible.
If done properly, foam rolling and stretching can be your Jordan and Pippen combination after you have completed your workout. However, there is even more that you can do.
Targeted or Graduated Compression
As it turns out, you do not have to be at the gym in order to properly recover. Now, compression has caught steam among fitness aficionados who believe in the positive effects of these pieces of apparel.
Compression works by forming a tight seal around a section of the body, which helps increase blood circulation in that specific area, thus helping the muscles perform better. Some types of compression socks and calf sleeves, that feature medical grade targeted or graduated compression, apply higher pressure at the ankle while gradually tapering off up the calf. This graduated tension allows better blood flow for faster reoxygenation and reduction of lactic acid.Additionally, it reduces the vibration of the muscles, making them less sore after being repeatedly contracted in a workout.
This makes it very popular with runners, as the consistent, taxing movement of their sport is unavoidable. The benefits of compression can be felt both during and after a workout, one of the many reasons it has been seen more and more in the fitness world. Wear it during your workout. Wear it after your workout. The blood circulation and support of the muscles will help you get right back at it in no time.
Keeping with the times, brands such as McDavid have taken to creating various types of compression garments. From arm sleeves, to leg sleeves to compression shorts, there is a wide variety of options if you are looking to improve your performance both during and after training.
Though you may have a killer workout routine planned, it is worthless if you cannot complete it consistently. A proper post-training recovery routine is a huge factor in determining how frequently you can get out there and put your body to the test.
Should you stretch? Should you foam roll? Should you wear compression apparel? The answer is yes across the board. A truly effective regimen that minimizes soreness, reduces the risk for injury, and maximizes your physical potential involves all three of these. With an efficient plan for recovery, you can guarantee that you can not only perform well but perform often.