If you’ve done iFit Trainer John Peel’s workouts, you know he loves to push his (and your) physical limits, but he also values and respects the importance of recovery days. Recovery is an essential part of training.
For most fitness enthusiasts, the mindset around exercise is that pushing the limits helps us reach our fitness goals. Whether it’s to shed minutes on your race time, build muscle, or increase overall endurance, we often think that more is better. However, science tells us that without proper recovery time, we can actually expect to see sub-par results. In basic weight training, we learn that when you lift weights, you tear your muscle fibers. When the muscle fibers repair themselves, the muscle gets bigger and more defined. Without adequate rest, your immune system is unable to repair the muscle, and you won’t see the results you are working so hard to achieve.
If the idea of sitting on your couch and binge-watching Netflix is unappealing, don’t worry—taking it easy doesn’t mean doing nothing. A recovery day can incorporate some self-myofascial release, a yoga class, stretching at home, a sauna or jacuzzi visit, or even a brisk walk.
If you take the time to let your body recover, you can expect to see improved performance, feel better physically and mentally, and actually enjoy your workouts instead of struggling through them.
Here are some of John Peel’s favorite ways to recover.
As John mentions, adequate sleep is essential for optimal performance. Sleep deprivation can increase the levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that, at elevated levels, can cause anxiety, depression, digestive problems, heart disease, weight gain, and concentration impairment—all counterproductive to the health benefits that exercise should provide.
Additionally, studies suggest that sleep deprivation may also decrease the production of glycogen and carbohydrates, which are energy sources for physical activity. If you have decreased amounts of this stored energy, your workouts will be harder and less impactful. Make sure you get a solid eight hours of sleep for optimal focus, performance, and results during your workouts.
Self-myofascial release (foam rolling)
Foam rolling, also known as self-myofascial release (SMR), should be an essential component of your recovery routine.
Fascia is the body’s outermost layer of muscles. SMR is a technique that specifically targets the fascial systems that have been negatively impacted through repetitive motions, poor posture, and improper exercise techniques. This cycle starts out with inflammation, which then leads to the development of soft tissue adhesions—those pesky knots or trigger points that are both uncomfortable and limit your range of motion.
- Improved range of motion
- Decreased effects of stress on the human movement system
- Corrected muscle imbalances
- Increased blood flow to help overall recovery
- Reduced soreness
For specific moves that you can incorporate into your daily recovery routine, check out our blog post on SMR.
According to The American Heart Association, proper hydration makes it easier for your body to pump blood through your blood vessels to your muscles. Drinking adequate amounts of water will allow your muscles to work more efficiently, which will, in turn, improve your physical performance.
The amount of water your body needs depends on climate, exercise intensity and duration, along with various other factors. A good rule of thumb when determining whether you are adequately hydrated is to check the color of your urine. Clear to pale in color means you are well hydrated. If it’s dark yellow or amber, go chug some water.
Make sure you stay on top of your water drinking game. If you are experiencing feelings of thirst, it means you are already dehydrated! Buy yourself a fun, reusable water bottle to keep with you at all times. Having it by your side will serve as a reminder to drink regularly. Plus, by using a reusable water bottle, you’ll be helping the environment and reducing plastic waste!
Taking care of your physical health goes beyond exercise and nutrition. To reach optimal health, proper hydration, adequate sleep, mental health care, and adequate recovery time are imperative. After you do an intense John Peel workout program, consider incorporating his three tips for recovery into your post-workout routine—your body will thank you!