What is exercise without recovery? To put it simply, absolutely worthless. The goal of exercise is to break the body down just the right amount so that you can recover and build yourself back stronger, faster and leaner.
What are the different aspects of recovery?
Sleep is critical when it comes to recovering from exercise. While you’re sleeping your body is producing hormones such as growth hormone to aid in the repair of your muscles. Growth hormone can only be stimulated while you’re in deep sleep, so getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night is critical if your goal is to build muscle and lose body fat. Sleep deprivation also leads to sugar cravings, poor judgment when it comes to food choices and decreased exercise performance.
This one is probably the most important of all the different aspects of recovery. Making sure you’re getting an adequate amount of carbohydrates, fats and proteins from whole foods every day is key. That being said, how much is adequate? I’ve met with many of our gym members one on one about nutrition and found that most of them were under-eating, over-exercising and couldn’t understand why their bodies weren’t dropping weight. Your body is a lot smarter than you think. If you are not giving it the right amount of food then it will go into starvation mode and hold on to every calorie you give it, so do your body a favor and start eating more.
A good rule of thumb to start out with is multiply your body weight by 12 calories. This is the MINIMUM amount of calories your body needs to fuel your BMR or Basal Metabolic Rate, this is the number of calories your body burns at rest.
Yes, your body burns calories all day and all night long even without exercise. That needs to be taken into account. If youre working out hard for 2 hours and burn 1200 calories, and your BMR says you’re burning 1500, that’s a deficit of 2700. Now lets say you’re eating 1200 calories like some fad diets call for and now you’ve told your body you’re starving. Keeping the calorie deficit at 500 per day is a much safer approach and will keep your body and your mind sane.
So if I’m eating protein, carbs and fats…when do I eat what? This is simpler than people think. If your goal is to lean out you want your carbohydrates to be used to fuel your exercise and your body fat stores to be used for energy throughout the day. Your daily meals may look like this…
Breakfast- Protein (Eggs) + Healthy Fats (Avocado) + Veggies
Pre- Workout- Complex Carbohydrates (Bowl of Oatmeal with berries or Sweet Potato with cinnamon)
Post Workout- Simple Carbohydrate (Apple or Banana) + Protein (Protein Shake, Chicken or other lean meat)
Lunch- Protein + Veggies + Healthy Fat + Complex Carb
Dinner- Protein + Veggies + Healthy Fat
This should be a no brainer. If exercise is meant to break your muscles down then rest makes them come back stronger. Off days are critical for that. If you continue to exercise every single day you will remain constantly inflamed from the increased production of cortisol (stress hormone that stores fat) and never reach your true training potential. Give your body a break once in awhile. If you’re killing yourself in the gym give your body 1-2 rest days per week. If you’re new to exercise you may need even more rest, listen to your body in this case. If you notice that you’re extra tired, feel run down, fighting chronic colds and upper respiratory issues or no matter how hard you work or diet you just cant lose weight, then your body is telling you to take a break and let it rest. All you can do is listen at this point.
If you really think about it, recovery is almost as important if not more than the actual exercise that you’re doing. One without the other is pretty much pointless and as I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, the “go hard or go home” or “no pain no gain” mentality is moronic because it lacks any scientific backing.
A good rule of thumb is to just listen to your body and not try to follow along with what everyone else is doing. Your body wants to be active, healthy and lean. Give it the right amount of exercise, the healthiest foods possible and get enough sleep and watch how easy it is to finally reach your fat loss or muscle gain goals.
Good luck and happy rest days!