- Sick of feeling sore and mentally drained?
- Struggling to overcome the plateau period?
- Not sure why you’re not seeing the results you’ve worked hard for?
One word: recovery
Incorporating exercise into your life, irrespective of age or fitness level, is paramount to maintaining your quality of life, reducing the risk of chronic disease, improving mood and ensuring optimal mental health. However, while many of us think that progress is determined by how hard we train, how frequently we hit the gym, and how profusely we sweat, what many of us fail to realise is that the real secret to maintaining optimal results and health lies in our approach to recovery. While muscle recovery is a widely spoken about topic, it will likely come as no surprise that very few of us actually understand the importance of recovery and how to do it effectively. So, let’s get started!
Why is post-workout recovery so important?
Simply put, recovery is important for a number of physiological and psychological reasons. In terms of physiology, recovery is vital for your muscles to repair, rebuild and strengthen. From a psychological perspective, recovery is important for maintaining a healthy mindset and getting the downtime your body and brain need to hit the ‘reset’ button. It’s all about balance!
However, before we delve deeper into recovery, it’s important to first understand the distinct difference between rest and recovery. A rest day is designed to boost mental and physical recharging and to allow your muscles time to recuperate. Recovery, on the other hand, is the overarching process that includes many more variables. Recovery is the techniques and actions you take to maximise your body’s ability to repair in-between workouts. From hydration, nutrition and supplementation to heat, ice, stretching, compression and stress management, recovery is important for repairing muscles, balancing chemicals and hormones, repairing your nervous system, and maintaining positive mental health.
What happens to your body during recovery?
If you’re guilty of skipping rest days purely for the purpose of accelerating your results, guess what? You’re certainly not alone. However, this approach is far more damaging and counteractive than you may think. Wondering why? The process of building muscle doesn’t occur during your workouts, it begins the minute you put down the weights and start actively recovering. Here’s why:
Your downtime is when your body adapts to the stress of exercise, which allows the effects of training to truly take place.
Recovery helps your body to replenish energy stores and to repair the muscle tissue damaged during your workout.
Recovery reduces the risk of muscle breakdown as it allows your energy stores to be replenished and your tissue to be repaired.
Skipping rest days can lead to overtraining, which often results in symptoms such as depression, reduced sports performance, and increased risk of injury.
On that note, here are 4 simple changes you can implement into your routine to improve your post-workout muscle recovery:
1. Get serious about EAAs
After a gruelling workout, Essential Amino Acids (EAAs) are heavily and rapidly depleted, which ultimately impacts your muscles ability to grow and recover. The solution? Add EAAs to your supplement regime!
While Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) are the most widely talked about of the two, Essential Amino Acids (EAAs) are actually arguably more important and beneficial for helping you to maximise performance, recovery and all round wellbeing. BCAAs may be effective in beginning the process of protein synthesis, however, adequate levels of all nine essential amino acids are required to complete protein synthesis. Simply put, why just enjoy the benefits of BCAAs when you can enjoy the full spectrum of benefits known to EAAs?
So, what are EAAs?
EAAs are made up of nine essential amino acids, including methionine, lysine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, leucine, isoleucine, valine and histidine - three of which are BCAAs. As these are essential amino acids, your body cannot produce them on its own, which means they need to be sourced from your diet. EAAs play an important role in muscle maintenance, post-workout muscle recovery and fatigue, appetite regulation, cognitive function, sleep and metabolism, which makes them crucial for not only facilitating the muscle recovery process but for accelerating it.
When it comes to optimal muscle recovery, our go-to supplement is Evolve Damage Control.
Whether you want to boost muscle protein synthesis and prevent muscle breakdown or accelerate recovery and enhance performance, Damage Control contains the innovative PeptoPro formula and world-renowned Ajinomoto Aminos to bring you the ultimate full-spectrum EAA protein accelerator. Best taken intra-workout to avoid muscle catabolism and accelerate your recovery, Damage Control is the ultimate fast-acting recovery formula that tastes just as great as it performs.
Much like protein powder, not all EAAs are created equal. Let’s take a deeper look at Damage Control:
PeptoPro - is an advanced peptide formulation that contains all 20 amino acids required for muscle protein synthesis. These amino acids are delivered in the form of di-peptides and tri-peptides, which means they require little to no digestion and can be absorbed and utilised by the muscle rapidly to facilitate accelerated muscle recovery. This is particularly important during and after intense training as your muscles are generally depleted and in need of these aminos.
Ajinomoto Aminos - If you’re concerned about the quality of the nutrients you consume, Ajinomoto 99% pure aminos are perfect for you. Ajinomoto Aminos are the original amino acid game-changer, with over 100 years’ worth of scientific research and development. Their amino acids are milled seven times, which means they’re not only easier to mix, but also rapidly absorbed by your body.
Ideal for those who struggle with digestion - Due to the di-peptides and tri-peptides found in PeptoPro, Damage Control requires virtually no digestion, which means your body can get the nutrients it requires without experiencing digestive issues known to many protein sources.
Delicious flavours - Not a fan of milk-based supplements? No stress! Damage Control is a water-based formula loved for it’s delicious and refreshing flavours. Choose between Bubblegum Grape, Green Apple, Lemonade Icy Pole, Pine Orange.
2. Make time for sleep
Sleeping to achieve the results you’ve worked hard for at the gym sounds contradictory, right? Believe it or not - sleep is one of the most fundamental steps in your recovery phase and is detrimental to reaching your fitness goals!
How does sleep hinder or assist your fitness goals? In order to understand the role sleep plays in impacting muscle recovery, it’s important to understand the two main stages of sleep:
REM Sleep - REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep accounts for roughly 20-25% of an adult’s total sleep time and generally occurs within 90-120 minute cycles throughout the duration of the night. REM sleep helps to restore energy to the brain to support cognitive function throughout the day, which helps to increase feelings of motivation, determination and persistence - all core requirements for a mentally-driven workout.
Non-REM Sleep - Non-REM sleep is known as your ‘deep sleep’ phase, which is essential for restoring the body and repairing muscles. The non-REM sleep phase accounts for approximately 40% of total sleep time, in which case your blood pressure drops and your breathing subsequently slows down and deepens. During this phase, there is minimal brain activity, which ultimately increases the blood supply to your muscles. With an increase in blood supply to the muscles comes an increase in the oxygen and nutrients being delivered to your muscles, which is vital to muscle recovery and growth. Additionally, during this phase of your sleep cycle, your pituitary gland releases growth hormone, which stimulates muscle growth and repair. Similarly, a lack of sleep is suggested to decrease the secretion of growth hormone. As such, this part of your sleep cycle directly impacts your muscle’s ability to repair and strengthen.
3. Make Protein a Priority
If you’re into the health and fitness scene, you likely won’t be a stranger to the benefits of protein powder for improving post-workout muscle recovery.
Exercise causes micro-tears in muscle fibres, which results in sore muscles. As such, supplementing with a quality protein source helps to fuel your body with the amino acids it requires to help rebuild the muscle that was broken down during your training. Similarly, these amino acids are a fundamental component in building brand new muscle tissue. Protein also plays an important role in helping to restore some of the glycogen used during your workout, particularly when combined with carbs.
Whey protein is a particularly popular choice among protein users as it contains BCAAs - made up of Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine - which play an important role in restoring your body’s glycogen levels, building lean muscle mass and assisting muscle recovery. The branch chain amino acid, Leucine, is suggested to play the most prominent role in enhancing protein synthesis, which is the process of repairing broken down muscles.
4. Keep Hydrated
While many of us understand the importance of keeping hydrated during our workout, very few of us realise that it is equally important during the post-workout recovery phase.
Did you know that your muscles consist of 75% water? From helping to digest vital nutrients to repairing the muscles damaged during an intense training session, water plays a significant role in all functions of the body and is particularly important when it comes to recovery.
Exercise plays an important role in strengthening and growing your muscles, but in order to do that, your muscles must first go through a process of being broken down and rebuilt via muscle protein synthesis. However, one of the core requirements for muscle protein synthesis to take place is well-hydrated muscles. As such, if you are dehydrated, protein synthesis will be slowed down, which means so too will your muscle recovery.
Additionally, water is required to transport nutrients to your cells, excrete waste from your body, and to help form the structures of protein and glycogen. If your body is dehydrated, it means your muscles aren’t receiving the electrolytes they require to function optimally, which will result in cramping. As muscles are controlled by nerves, muscle strength will also be impaired without adequate water and electrolyte balance. Optimal performance, results and recovery are dependent on hydration.
Struggling to improve your recovery approach and not sure where to start? Check out our Evolve Recovery Pack.