Our bodies are capable of some incredible things. I’m sure we all have someone that inspires us in regards to our training and helps push us further than we think we can. Potentially you aspire to look a certain way inspired by someone you saw on TV, or you aspire to work as hard as someone who posted their daily routine on their Instagram. Regardless of who these people are, the one thing that they all have in common is they look after themselves extremely well which enables them to achieve these incredible results. Their training regimes and their nutrition would both seem unattainable for the regular gym user, but is it really that difficult to achieve? They have been able to achieve these results so we can as well. Recovery is one of the most important tools that we can use that will increase our progress and propel our results into a new realm that we once thought were impossible. Today, Hammer’s Gym is going to take you through the importance of recovery and ways that you can optimise your training by putting more of a focus on what happens outside of the gym. Keep an open mind and we challenge you to try at least one method that we suggest today, because after all, it may be the difference that you need to take your next step.
As we train, we are constantly exhausting all our energy sources and breaking down our muscles. While this is all well and good, what helps us to become better at what we do is for our muscles to respond to the stimulus that is being asked of them. When we take time off to recover, our muscles will start to adapt, grow and repair themselves in a way that makes the task at hand easier next time we encounter it. For example, if you do 10,000 steps, your body will repair the muscles you have used in order for them to handle the task better. Your lungs, your legs, your arms and whatever else you may have used to complete your steps will lean out and become more efficient to make the steps easier. Similarly for a bench press, the muscles in your chest and your arms will grow bigger to support heavier loads as time goes on. This is why recovery is so important, because without it, our body never gets the time to heal, grow and repair.
Burning out is also a risk that you may fall victim to if you skip on recovery. If your body is never able to rest, bringing the same energy and intensity to a workout will never be able to replicate across the weeks or months. You will eventually be running on fumes and it may feel as though your progress is going backwards, when in actual fact, you’re on track to make the progress you have worked hard for, you’re just not giving yourself the time to access.
A useful tip that can help your recovery is how you are warming up and cooling down around your training. Going straight into a workout may cause a greater strain on your body and make it more likely to injure yourself which will put you out of training for much longer than a rest day. Similarly, at the end of your session you should be cooling down appropriately. This allows us to have a much more gentle rate of recovery in terms of our heart rate and can also help flush out lactic acid build up around our muscles and reduce the chance of any delayed onset muscle soreness.
If a full rest day sounds like the worst thing in the world to you, or some days you just aren’t feeling like yourself but still want to get a session in, an active recovery day is an important tool to have up your sleeve. An active recovery day is where you do low impact exercises that don’t cause a strain on your body but may still increase your heart rate and promote blood flow around your body. Going for a walk, foam rolling, stretching, and low intensity cardio are all great ways to scratch the itch of training while still letting your body recover as it needs.
Sleep is where our body does most of its recovery and where your body goes through the most changes. Sleep is one of the most important aspects of recovery and can change the game for any individual trying to achieve their athletic goals. If there were to be a pill that you could buy over the counter at your pharmacy that gave you the same benefits as a healthy 8 hours of sleep, it would be completely sold out everywhere. Yet we have the ability to take ownership of our sleep every night but we continue to look over it. Ways that we can increase our sleep is to focus on what happens around the times we are trying to sleep. Try to avoid anything stimulating when getting close to bed such as screen time, stimulants or heart-rate increasing activity. One tool that we recommend at Hammer’s Gym is a Dawn Simulator. You place these in your room and have the lights completely off. When you set it off, it will illuminate your room and slowly dim across 30-45 minutes. As you are in the room, the self-made sunset will tell your body that it is time to sleep. In the morning, it will do the reverse and create a sunset in your room giving you a much more gradual wake up as opposed to an alarm blaring right on time. They can be found online and are an incredible purchase.
Our last piece of advice that we have for you is to listen to your body. If you are hurting, or you are struggling to lift a weight that you could yesterday, or you’re more out of breath while out on your bike, it is probably time to incorporate some sort of recovery tool into your schedule. You will make much more progress towards your goal when your body is feeling good and working at your peak. So take a step outside your comfort zone and try and do something for yourself and see where it takes you. If you mention this blog post at Hammer’s Gym in Nunawading reception, we will offer you an exclusive deal to kickstart your training and help you recover in our new Massage Chairs free to all members.