Why Your Urge To Do More Is Compromising Workout Recovery And Your Ability To Build Muscle
Workout recovery is essential. And in your fast-paced lifestyle, it's easy to ignore it. But what if I told you that your lack of recovery is impacting your ability to build muscle and get in shape, would you sit up and take notice?
You and I live in a culture where striving for more is the norm. And achieving more HAS to be done in double-quick time.
So it's only natural for you to want to workout as much, and as frequently as possible. Because that's what leads to achieving your goal as quickly as possible, right?
Sadly, it's not that simple.
Training is fun, but it's only part of the equation. Workout recovery is vital. If you choose to overlook it, you're guaranteed to be limiting your progress and INCREASING the time it'll take to achieve your goal.
In this article, you'll discover everything you need to know about workout recovery. And you'll get 6 practical tips to maximise your recovery after working out. First, let's talk about why workout recovery is so important, using examples of 3 Iron Paradise Fitness clients.
Why Workout Recovery Is Important
"Ignoring Workout Recovery Is Like Making A Cake, But Only Giving It 5 Minutes To Bake."
At Iron Paradise Fitness, clients from diverse backgrounds come to learn how to live a leaner, healthier life, for good. Despite varying personal circumstances, they typically have many commonalities, such as busy, high-pressure lifestyles. For example, here's 3 clients I've worked with in the past.
- Mike. A 48 year old senior director at a large corporate firm. He manages a large team of people and has to continually balance the demands of a high-pressure role.
- Laura. With a wedding to prepare for in 12 months time, she needs to simultaneously juggle her busy career as a senior lawyer in a successful firm, with getting ready for the big day.
- Ian. His job is in finance and requires him to travel on a frequent basis. This brings a multitude of factors to manage, including what to eat and periods of disrupted sleep.
All these clients work-out in some way. But they also have a number of accumulating stressors that need to be managed. And this is where an individualised approach to workout recovery matters most.
Because simply working out is not enough. It's only half of the equation.
Think about building muscle and achieving your fitness goals like baking a cake.
Training is the process of creating the cake mix. You're blending all the necessary ingredients together, in the right quantities, to create the perfect cake (coffee and walnut for me, please).
Workout recovery is the baking process. Patiently waiting for the raw ingredients to transform into the glorious cake you imagined.
Therefore, neglecting recovery is like allowing the perfect mix to bake for just 5 minutes. All your efforts go to waste and you end up with a sloppy mess of disappointment.
So here's how to bake the perfect Victoria Sponge Of Gains.
Sympathetic Vs Parasympathetic: A Balanced Approach To Workout Recovery
"You Must Bring Balance To The
Force Nervous System."
You could argue that modern life is flying in the face of our natural, human inclinations.
From an evolutionary perspective we're hard-wired to prioritise sleeping, eating, and survival.
Working out as much as possible, putting in long hours at work, eating poorly, and getting minimal shut-eye, doesn't really fit into those natural traits.
When it comes to workout recovery, you need to go back to basics, starting with your Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). Your ANS can be further broken down into two sub-systems. The Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) and the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS). These might sound like complex, scientific terms, but chances are you know them already by different phrases.
- Sympathetics Nervous System: This is your 'fight or flight' response.
- Parasympathetic Nervous System: This is commonly referred to as 'rest and digest' (although you can still digest in either state, but you get the idea).
Constantly being in a state of 'fight or flight' might be advantageous if you spend your day running from wolves, but it's unlikely to be optimal for most people. Trying to smash 7 workouts and 4 exercise classes a week, 20k steps a day, and 2 x 10km runs might sound great. But that, coupled with the stresses of day-to-day life could mean you're spending too much time in fight or flight mode. And that could lead to sleep disturbance, anxiety, and impaired workout recovery.
So it's important to achieve balance.
Like a Jedi bringing balance to the force, you need to bring balance to the nervous system.
"But how do I do that?" I hear you cry.
Fear not, my young Padawan. Here are your 6 steps to become a Jedi of workout recovery.
6 Steps Of Optimal Workout Recovery
"Prioritise Workout Recovery As Much As The Workouts Themselves."
Prioritising your workout recovery is easier than you think. In fact, it requires you to do FUCK ALL! Seriously. The less you do, the more progress you'll make.
Here's a checklist of 6 things you can do to maximise your workout recovery, build more muscle, and achieve your fitness goals.
1. Manage Your Training Volume And Intensity
The appropriate amount of training volume and workout intensity will be very individual. Adjust this based on whether or not you are fully recovering between your workouts.
2. Prioritise Nutrition To Maximise Workout Recovery
Eating for recovery doesn't have to be complex, but there are a few things worth considering.
Your post-workout meal should consist of some protein, ideally within 3 hours of your workout. To be optimal, a recovery shake containing 0.3g/kg of whey protein and 5g of creatine would be perfect (although not essential).
Over the course of a day, multiple protein servings (4-6 would be a sensible target) will promote Muscle Protein Synthesis (the building of new muscle) and support the recovery process.
In terms of carbohydrate, you don't specifically need to have any post-workout (you can if you want to). Focus on maximising carbohydrate intake over a 24 hour period to replenish glycogen stores.
There are other things you can do, but these are the basics you should focus on getting right, consistently.
3. Develop An Optimal Sleep Routine
Sleep is a crucial part of workout recovery, so don't ignore it. This is especially true if you're in a calorie deficit as sleep deprivation can increase muscle mass loss. Here's the process I get my clients to follow in order to create an effective sleep routine.
- Create a sleep routine you can stick to each day.
- Set a specific time to go to bed and wake up in the morning, ideally allowing for 7-9 hours sleep.
- Turn off all technology that emits blue light (ie, phones and laptops) at least 60 mins before bed.
- Keep your bedroom for sex and sleep only. No TV!
- Keep the bedroom cool and as dark as possible.
- Use an activity tracker to monitor your sleep patterns.
- Try to get natural sunlight each morning.
4. Meditate On A Daily Basis
Research has shown that meditation has a number of health benefits, including the decrease of sympathetic overstimulation. Spending a few minutes per day with guided meditation could help support the workout recovery process, as well as manage some of your other life stressors.
5. Reduce Alcohol And Stimulants
Alcohol can have a detrimental effect on Muscle Protein Synthesis, which means over-consumption in the post-workout recovery period could impact your gains. Additionally, caffeine consumption during the day may impact sleep and ultimately, your ability to perform at your best the following day.
So whilst a constant drip of coffee might help you get through the working day and a bottle of wine helps you unwind, it might not be the best workout recovery approach. Instead, focus on the basics of nutrition that make a real difference.
6. Do Fuck All On Rest Days
You might be tempted to do "active recovery" or some cardio on your rest days, but this might not be the best option. Doing absolutely nothing might be exactly what you need. Go for a walk to get some steps in, but otherwise chill out. Relax, unwind and allow your body to recover, fully.
The Bottom Line On Workout Recovery
You don't need to constantly workout and plow your body into the ground to build muscle and get in-shape. In fact, this approach is highly likely to have the reverse effect. Focus on your workout recovery just as much as your training if you want to make bigger strides forward.
Training for 3 hours a day, 7 days a week might seem like a badge of honour. But in many cases, it's a badge of idiocy.
Proper workout recovery is a crucial aspect of the muscle building process that simply can't be ignored. Managing your training, nutrition, sleep, and mindset are critically important factors you need to get right.
So take a step back, assess what you're doing objectively, and ask yourself if you've created an environment for growth or physical and mental burnout.
Here's What To Do Next If You Want More Information
If you want to get on the fast track to a leaner, healthier, stronger body, I've got a couple of things you might be interested in.
Workout recovery is a small part of the overall puzzle and there are many other aspects of training and nutrition that need consideration. And this can be a frustrating and overwhelming process. So let me help you keep things as simple as possible.
Starting with your nutrition.
And over the next few days I'll send you some more free guides and information to help kickstart your fitness journey, including:
- A 4 week training programme for beginners, complete with exercise videos and a workout tracker.
- A guide on how to conquer your uncontrollable cravings.
- An exclusive recipe book with over 30 delicious, diet-friendly recipes.
So if you want all that, click here.
But for now, all I’ll say is… Keep living the Lean Life and I’ll see you soon.