Jul 16th, 2013
Category: Athletic Performance Training
Improve The Quality and Speed of Your Recovery
Do you feel sore, stiff, exhausted, and broken down all the time? If this is you, or even if this is not you, start paying more attention to how you are recovering.
Resistance training, along with other forms of fitness, can result in elevated levels of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that can lead to depression and cell destruction (catabolic). Resistance training can also lead to extreme levels of lactic acid and/or hydrogen ion build up, which causes immediate and delayed fatigue. Lastly, resistance training can lead to the inelasticity (i.e. tightness) of soft tissue, tendons, muscles and ligaments. Tightness is a result of short range of motion (ROM) training; improper technique; and repetitive training. No matter what the result may be from your training sessions, whether improper or proper, recovering post-workout is just as essential as the training session itself.
Tip 1: Ingest Whey Protein
Whey protein spikes insulin levels because of its fast absorption rate, which is critical for muscle growth. It is essential that you ingest whey protein with a high concentration of Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) post-workout; the BCAA leucine is the most critical of the three to ingest. When performing resistance training, weightlifting or explosive training, include a high dosage of the leucine intra and post workout. 5-10 grams of leucine both pre and intra workout is recommended.
Whey protein boosts testosterone (T) levels, particularly free T, which can help counter cortisol increases. Metabolic stress increases cortisol levels and can decrease free T levels. It is necessary to balance the levels between the two hormones. The goal is to rid the body of cortis
ol and increase free-T levels. Supplementing with Vitamin C, post-workout, has proven successful in lowering cortisol levels. Supplementing with Zinc, Vitamin D, magnesium or ZMA can aid in replenishing free T levels. Low T levels can last for days.
Tip 2: Perform Self-Myofascial Release (i.e. foam rolling)
Self-Myofascial Release (SMR), post workout, is essential in creating soft tissue elasticity. SMR is better known as “foam rolling.” Foam rolling should be treated like any other workout regimen, progression must be incorporated. Start with a “hard foam” roller. The pain and discomfort you feel is adhesions and knots within the soft-tissue layer. These painful spots can only be broken up through foam rolling or through deep-tissue massages (i.e. ART). Once the “hard foam” roller seems to cause little to minimal discomfort than the time has come to progress to a hard rubber or plastic roller. These rollers now include trigger point technology.
Foam rolling is simple. Post-workout foam rolling directions are as follows:
-Slowly roll along the entire length of the muscle
-Stop and hold on any painful spot until the pain has subsided or reduced; approximately 20-30 seconds.
-Continue to roll along the entire muscle until all the spots have generally subsided.
-Static stretch that same muscle; hold approximately 20-30 seconds.
The soft tissue therapy followed by static stretching will decrease muscle soreness, increase performance and reduce the risk of injury.
Tip 3: Recover between Workouts
Recovery between workouts is vital. Metabolic stress causes acute fatigue to the muscles that were most active during the workout. Sprinting, for example, causes lactic acid build up that can dramatically affect repetition performance. It can take up to two hours for the lactic acid to completely clear out of the muscles that were exhausted. A by-product of metabolic stress is creatine kinase. Creating kinase is a good tell of muscle damage and can be elevated throughout a 24 hour period post-training. Strength and power outputs will be significantly lowered because of the muscle damage.
Damaged muscles can take days to recover, particularly within the lower body. Training on damaged muscles and/or fatigued muscles will result in reduced performance and a heightened risk of injury. Therefore, it is important to the following three things:
- 1. Supplement with whey protein post-workout. Add in a natural sugar, such as a banana, that is moderate to high glycemic when the training session is high intensity for an hour or more.
- 2. Foam roll and stretch to increase elasticity and blood flow within the muscles.
- 3. Take a couple days rest in between similarly trained / focused workouts. Ex: do not lift lower body on consecutive days; or do not perform plyometrics or sprint training on consecutive days.
Copyright Functional Muscle Fitness © 2013
1. Sikorsi, E. Changes in Perceived Recovery Status Scale Following High Volume, Muscle Damaging Resistance Exercise. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: 2012.