Knowledge

Recoverite (vol 7.13)

Exactly what your body craves after workouts!

By Steve Born

Spring has finally arrived! That means you're out running, cycling, paddling, or whatever your chosen sport may be, with more frequency and for longer periods of time. If you're preparing for any races, you know that this time of year is when training volume begins to peak, and those key races are right on the horizon.

Whether you're a weekend warrior or a full-blown racer, post-workout recovery plays an essential role in accomplishing your fitness goals. Proper recovery will ensure that you:

  • Obtain the most fitness benefits from your workouts
  • Get the full value out of the investment you make in equipment
  • Maintain optimal immune system functioning, thus improving overall health

Taking the steps to recover fully and completely between your workouts is as important a component of athletic performance as any equipment used and any training plan employed. PERIOD!

When your body doesn't receive the nutritional support it needs after a workout, it's simply not going to respond favorably. The time it takes to recuperate is prolonged, muscle tissue doesn't heal and rebuild as quickly or thoroughly, you'll feel sorer for longer periods of time, and the potential for getting sick - courtesy of a suppressed immune system - increases. Plus, you miss out on the brief "window of opportunity" that your body gives you to store greater amounts of the onboard, ready-to-use fuel known as muscle glycogen.

If you make the effort to recover properly after every workout, your body will more efficiently and effectively absorb all of the hard work you've done in training. That leads to increased fitness and better overall health, the primary goals of exercise. Remember, how well you recover today will be a huge factor in how well you perform tomorrow.

The "do's" and "don'ts" for optimal recovery

1.) DO replenish your body with complex carbohydrates ASAP. When your workout's completed, your body is on "empty" and needs rapid replenishment to restore depleted glycogen stores. Why is this important? Because when you begin a workout or race, the primary fuel your body uses for the first 60-90 minutes is muscle glycogen. Studies show that the preexercise muscle glycogen level is the most important energy determinant for exercise performance, so athletes who have more of this readily available fuel in their bodies should have a definite advantage.

The good news is that you can substantially increase your glycogen storage capacity through the process of training and then replenishing ASAP after your workout, and the sooner the better! Research has shown that glycogen synthesis and storage is highest when subjects are given carbohydrates immediately after exercise, ideally within the first 60 minutes.

2.) DON'T consume junk foods or fuels! Some so-called "experts" suggest that you can eat darn near anything after your workout and enjoy maximum recovery - one cycling coach even suggests that soft drinks are acceptable. Seriously? You've just thrashed your body in training and now you're going to consume junk, believing that optimal recovery is a given? Once again, the oft-used adage "garbage in, garbage out" applies here. If you consume garbage food after your workout, that's what you can expect your recovery to be: garbage. By the way, if you're still under the belief that chocolate milk - touted as a great recovery drink - is ideal, check out the article on the next page.

Always remember that what you put in your body determines what you'll get out of it. If you want your recovery to be as good as possible, feed your body with high-quality food or fuel, containing ample amounts of complex carbohydrates and sufficient amounts of protein.