Tough workouts are often associated with soreness the next day and, in some cases, for several days to follow. Pain or discomfort may not be the only impact. You might find that your motivation can take a bit of a beating as well. This doesn’t have to be the case. With some planning, you can keep soreness to a minimum and still maximize the benefit of a great workout.

Hydrate before you are thirsty

Feeling thirsty? Chances are your body is already dehydrated. In order to maximize performance while exercising, as well as speed up recovery, drink plenty of fluids before you feel thirsty.

To shorten your recovery and decrease soreness, aim to replace the fluids lost through sweat during exercise. During one hour of exercise, your body can lose around one liter of water. To combat this, drink plenty of water before exercising, as well as after to help recovery.

Refuel

Your body’s energy stores become depleted during exercise and will need to be refilled through consuming food. Healthy, whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and protein, allow your body to repair tissue damaged during exercise, gain strength, and recover faster.

Looking to grab a post-exercise drink? Experts point to chocolate milk as a great choice to kick start the recovery process. Chocolate milk contains proteins important for tissue repair and recovery, as well as carbohydrates to help the refueling process.

Get some extra sleep

Allow your body to recover by getting some extra sleep. Whether in the form of a daytime nap, or some extra hours added for a good night’s rest, additional sleep can help speed along the recovery process.

Plan an active recovery

Being active can help increase blood flow, boosting nutrient supply to overworked muscle tissue. This extra blood supply may also assist in reducing the feeling of soreness. By incorporating light activity, such as brisk walking or a short low intensity hike, your body may actually recover faster from your tough workout.

Work smarter, not always harder

Great recovery starts with a well-crafted workout plan. Excessive workout plans, lack of planned rest, or training too heavy all the time will limit your progress over time and almost certainly lead to over training. To ensure that you are setting yourself up to recover successfully from your workouts, and ultimately making progress, start with a great workout plan.

You might be unsure of where to start when putting together a workout program. Don’t worry, you aren’t alone. This is a great time to consult with a personal trainer about your goals, fitness level, and preferred style of exercise. From there, a personal trainer can put together an exercise program tailored specifically for you and your goals, all while ensuring your ability to recover appropriately and minimize soreness.

With the right planning and using the right tools to speed recovery, you can ensure a hard work out is also a smart work out.

Ryan Grey is Assistant Director of Fitness at the Greater Burlington YMCA. He holds a BS in Exercise Science from the University of Vermont and is a certified personal trainer. To learn more about fitness, including personal training, at the YMCA, contact Ryan at rgrey@gbymca.org or call 802-652-8183.

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