Hannah Rose is a London based fitness and lifestyle blogger. Here she offers her top tips on recovery after a workout. You can follow her @misscharholmes.
For many of us who make keeping fit and active a priority, the idea of 'rest' is not something that comes to our minds all that often. We're 'go go go' all the time, it's what we've been wired to do; we've finally plucked up the courage and the self discipline to CHOOSE to workout and take time out of our day to go to the gym, some down time isn't something that occurs to us.
Whilst this may be the case for the majority of us, it doesn't necessarily mean it's right. I know all too well the importance of making sure we take care of our bodies and allow them to recover and heal. I'm currently recovering from my second knee surgery, and I have learned the hard way over the past two years that incorporating recovery and rest time into our fitness routines is vital.
Taking a break
Sure, going to the gym six days a week sounds impressive (and it is) but there comes a point where overdoing it in the gym (or on the track, or in the pool, or wherever you choose to workout) will actually begin to hinder your progress. Resting and giving your body time to recover is extremely important, as our bodies actually repair themselves and our muscles get stronger during the downtime. If you've recently been feeling exhausted, been ill, have been experiencing a plateau or even a decrease in your fitness level or motivation, you may just need a bit of a break. A few months ago I took two weeks off training (it was meant to be one week, but I got sick) and it 100% helped me both physically and mentally, I came back from my break feeling ready and raring to go.
So, hopefully I've caught your ear on this whole recovery thing, but what can you do to ensure your body is able to recover properly?
First of all let's look at what you can do straight after exercise on a day-to-day basis. Make sure after you exercise that you're keeping yourself hydrated (as we lose a lot of fluid during exercise... Yes I mean SWEAT), and also make sure you're eating the right thing post-workout. I will always ensure I have both carbohydrates and protein after a workout as they both aid recovery. Another thing you can do straight after your workout is ensure you cool down properly by stretching your muscles, particularly those you might have been focusing on during training.
Secondly, in the long run, scheduling time off from exercise is a good idea. If you build down-time into your training plan, whether that's a day or a week, you will be prepared for it and you will be able to come up with some creative ways of filling your time. Having rest doesn't have to mean you don't stay active, if you do a lot of HIIT for example, you could take a few days' break but stay active by going for some walks or taking a yoga class. It will probably be very difficult if you go to the gym a lot, but it will definitely be worth it and your body and your progress will thank you for it! In the long term it's so much better to keep your body healthy and to avoid injury!
Watch Hannah and fitness blogger Charlotte Holmes take on Team GB triathlete Vicky Holland's training programme!