Resistance training acts like an acute stressor and modulates physiological pathways that are associated with the stress response such as the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis.
When we assist the recovery process and reduce the stress response, we can reduce the amount of time we experience soreness and can get back into the gym sooner to chase our goals.
Protein can be obtained from a wide range of whole food sources such as fish, chicken, turkey, and beef, as well as non-animal sources such as quinoa, green peas, and tofu, but in much smaller amounts (and these are considered incomplete proteins). Protein can also be attained in supplement form, most commonly in powders such as whey protein powder, pea protein powder, or rice protein powder.
Building muscle mass essentially involves the process of lifting heavier weights, tearing the muscle fibres, and then rebuilding them stronger and bigger, and this is where regular protein intake comes in. Protein is the building block of muscles, and muscle protein synthesis is a naturally occurring process in which protein is produced to repair muscle damage caused by intense exercise.
For my weight loss nutrition clients, or anyone for that matter who wants to at best maintain if not build muscle mass, working off a 2g per kilogram of body weight is a good starting point.
BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) have long been studied, showing benefits in reducing muscle soreness, faster recovery time, reduced creatine kinase (which is a good indicator of recovery), and better retention of maximum muscular force.
#3 Foam Rolling
Using a foam roller is considered a form of self-massage, and it can produce many of the same benefits. Popular thought is that foam rolling breaks up adhesions, reduces stiffness, decreases soreness, increases blood flow, and reduces tissue tension, leading to improved recovery and performance.
For the body to reboot and heal itself, it requires seven to ten hours of sleep, and these hours differ based on one’s exercise routine, lifestyle, chemical makeup, and workload. Wake up with the sun when possible, have a dark and well-ventilated room, and decrease screen time before bed for a better quality of sleep.
#4 Magnesium & Zinc
Magnesium is essential for the maintenance of electrolyte balance, energy production, and normal neuromuscular function. Zinc plays a central role in the regulation of cellular growth and tissue repair as well as maintenance of a healthy immune system. These two powerhouses are a great option for boosting general health, performance, and recovery.
Water is the best way to hydrate. The simplest way to check if you are dehydrated is to look at the colour of your urine. The darker the colour, the more dehydrated you are. If you get sick of water, try putting a slice of lemon, lime, or orange in the water to give it some flavour without adding sugar/unwanted calories. There are a lot of different formulas out there, but this is what I tell my clients; if you are female, aim for a minimum of two litres per day, and men, aim for three litres. If you exercise, add at least another litre.
#6 Active Recovery
Active recovery is the engagement of low-intensity exercise after completing a heavy workout or a big week at the gym. As paradoxical as it may seem, the best way to recover from strenuous exercise or other sports competition is to exercise at a lower intensity rather than remaining still. Try going for a walk or a bike ride to flush out the sore muscles.
#7 Acupressure Mat
Although higher-quality research needs to be conducted to prove the efficacy of acupressure mats, I swear by my mine! The premise is that, after a few seconds of lying on it, the body encourages blood flow to the area. The area increases in temperature from the increased blood flow, which promotes the release of hormones that act as natural opioid painkillers for tissue repair. I try to clock up twenty minutes a day.
I am a proud ambassador of Tuska Mat. The Tuska Mat is made from high-quality recyclable ABS plastic, natural linen and coconut fibre inserts without dyes. They leave out all the extra packaging that usually ends up in the bin and provide a free carry strap with all their mats instead!
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#8 Have a Soak
Hot baths promote blood flow to the muscles by dilating blood vessels and thereby increasing circulation, which aids healing. Throw in some epsom salts, magnesium, and essential oils for extra healing benefits.
#9 Rehydrate with electrolytes
Electrolytes are electrically charged minerals essential for many physiological functions in the human body, making them a crucial component to both physical and mental performance. A good electrolyte contains the optimal balance of sodium, potassium, magnesium and carbohydrates to enhance hydration. Sodium is the key driver of hydration in the body and requires a small number of carbohydrates to cross over cell membranes with the help of specially-designed transporters, SGLTs (sodium-glucose linked transporters).
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We want to give our body the opportunity to move from the sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic nervous system to assist in the recovery process. That means doing anything that promotes a state of calm. What do you like to do that helps you actively destress? I know for me it is mainly all of the above, but I also like to chill out with my kids, watch a good documentary, walk along the beach or take a dip in the ocean.
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