Regular exercise has many benefits. It promotes weight-control, enhances cardiovascular health, supports muscle strength and builds healthy bones to name a few. Whether it’s Pilates, Zumba, CrossFit, or any other vigorous exercise program, the idea is to forcefully contract the muscles, repetitively, over a defined period of time to achieve the exercise benefit. And, within reasonable limits, the more intense the workout, the better the result.
What many regular exercisers do not realize is that the training does not end when the workout is over. In fact, in many ways, the important steps are yet to be completed.
Tips to Maximize Your Exercise Results
Any intense physical activity creates oxidative stress to the muscle. In other words, exercise damages muscle. It causes injury. The benefits come in the healing phase. It is during this recovery period that muscle rebuilds, becomes stronger and fitness improves. This phase is critical to the success of any exercise program and to the health of the person doing the exercise.
Use these 5 tips to improve your recovery and maximize your results:
- Begin With The End In Mind – Recovery starts before the workout. Make sure you begin hydrating before the sweating begins. Eat a light snack consisting of protein and carbohydrates about 30 minutes before your workout. Warm up adequately before the workout.
- Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate – Drink fluid before, during and after the workout.
- Fill ‘er Up – Protein-rich foods before, during and especially within one hour after exercising are essential for muscle repair and growth. Studies show that whey protein shakes are especially effective because of their high leucine content.
- Proper Cool Down – A few minutes spent stretching and resting before running off to the shower helps your muscles transition from the high demands of exercise to normal duty.
- Get Adequate Rest – 48 hours between intense workouts is recommended. A 20-minute active recovery session (brisk walk, light jog, bike ride, yoga, etc.) is a great way to flush the toxins out of the sore muscles. Most of the healing occurs when you are sleeping. Get 6-8 hours every night.
Giving your muscles the rest and fuel they need to rebuild will reap big rewards in your strength, fitness and overall health. Count on it.