However, is there anything else you should be doing? Are there some simple things you could be doing to make the most of your time at the gym and to stack the odds in your favor when it comes to recovering from a hard workout and being ready to hit it again next time? If you’re like most people, I’d say the answer to those questions is yes. So here are a few small things that might add up to make a big difference and help you take yourself to that next level. FOAM
As great a workout as a boot camp is, there is so only so much that can be addressed in a 30 minute group class. Yes, you’ll get your strength training. Yes, you’ll get your cardio, balance, power work, etc. but one of the things that its really hard to get in a class format is good mobility work. That’s one of the things personals/semi personals are much better at addressing. The reason for this is that, in a group setting, everybody is different in exactly which areas they need to work on. Let’s be honest, mobility work isn’t exactly the sexiest stuff you can be doing when compared to box jumps, TRX presses, burpees, etc. but it is every bit as important as the more exciting stuff I just mentioned. Showing up to class 10 minutes early and foam rolling is a really good way to both work on long term issues and to prepare your body for the session to come. There are a ton of resources out there when it comes to learning how to foam roll, you could search YouTube or even ask one of the trainers to show you (it’ll take less than 5 minutes to learn) and it can make a really big difference in the way your body feels. Its simple, effective and you absolutely 100% should be doing it!
Another thing to do, is to take a few minutes after class to foam roll (again..) and also take a few minutes to stretch any muscles you feel you worked hard during the class. Not only will it feel great, it will also help you recover and be ready forthe next session!
As a rule, you need fuel (hey…it rhymes!) and its true. If you want to get the most out of your workout, its important to plan accordingly when it comes to making sure your body has the fuel it needs to carry you across the finish line in style. So what should you be consuming pre-workout and when? Well, if you ask 10 people, you’ll likely get 10 different answers. However I will share my personal philosophy on pre-workouts as I have experimented with a lot of different ideas over the years.
First up, I would recommend steering clear of over the counter pre-workouts…names such as Craze, Insane, Stampede, Mr Hyde etc. give a pretty good indication of how you will feel if you start drinking these things on a regular basis. I do see the use for them in certain specific situations but for the majority of people, I would say give them a miss. If it smells like detergent, and it makes your skin feel prickly all over, its probably not doing your heart or adrenal glands any favors and its always better to prioritize long term health over any short term performance benefits. One exception to the above rule however would be Branched Chain Amino Acids, they have a much less extreme effect than the above, but they can definitely provide a ready source of fuel and can be consumed during the workout also.
So what should you be taking in? Well, perhaps the best option in regard to both fuel and convenience is fruit. A lot of people swear by Apple and Peanut Butter (yummy…plus good fats!) or (personal fave) medjoul dates. Oranges can be a popular choice as well. Fruit is simple, effective and easy to find pretty much anywhere if your running late and don’t have time to stop home. I would advise eating it anywhere from 30 to 10 minutes before starting your workout and of course, make sure to eat sensible portion sizes:)
And if you feel like you need an extra little boost, a simple cup of coffee en route to the gym certainly can help with that. Notice I said simple, a carmel machiatto with extra whip doesn’t count!
So now that we have addressed pre workout nutrition, what about post workout? Well…if you’re a protein shake guy or gal, then now would be the time to knock one back. Its advisable to get it into your system asap after finishing your workout. Remember, its not just when you consume it that matters, but when it actually gets digested and makes it the muscles that is of priority here, so get it down your neck asap! Some smart folks are even now advising consuming your post workout drink during your pre-workout (huh?) as that will actually mean the proteins will be making it to your muscle right as your workout ends…however, that can lead to digestive issues with some people and personally, I would recommend just waiting until the end of your workout.
If, however, you prefer a more whole food approach, then post workout is the time for you to consume your heartiest meal of the day and, if you have no problem with carbs…then now would be the time to get in some brown rice, sweet potato, etc along with a good source of protein, such a fish, lean beef or chicken breast.
Regardless and most importantly…eat something! You don’t get stronger during the workouts, you get stronger during the recovery so make sure you give your body some good building blocks to work with.
It happens to everyone, if you train hard consistently and give it your best, you’re going to have workouts where you feel like you’re missing that spark, that fire. Where you feel slow, weak and uncoordinated. This is perfectly natural from time to time and could just be the result of you having “one of those days”. However, if it starts to become a regular thing, and you notice a pattern of this happening more and more, it might time to take a few days away from hard training.
Some tell tale signs might be that you seem to feel weaker, less explosive, you’re irritable, you’re not sleeping as well, and you’re workouts seem to be taking more from you than they are giving back. All signs that you might have been pushing it a little too hard for a little too long and its time to slow things up for a few days.
Most of us aren’t professional athletes and we have lives outside of the gym and sometimes those lives can beat us down as much as any workout, and combining that with hard training on a regular basis can lead you to feel pretty darn run down.
So if you’re feeling tired, drained, etc., then by all means take a few days off, I promise you won’t suddenly gain 50lbs of fat overnight and if anything, you might come back even stronger than when you took your break.
Also time off doesn’t have to mean a complete break from working out…you can still stretch, still foam roll, just take it a little easier on yourself when it comes to the tough stuff.
If you do find yourself having an especially challenging workout, don’t be too hard on yourself, just dig in, stick with it and come back the next day. However, if it seems to be happening more often than not, and if some of the above signs start to manifest, then its time to slow things down for a few days and let the body heal up. I promise nothing bad will come of it
Posted on 01/08/2016 at 11:11:00 AM
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