The Most Important Part of Your Workout That You Are Probably Neglecting!
People often concern themselves entirely with what they do during a workout. What is the best exercise to do? Exactly how many repetitions are ideal? There is plenty of discussion on the 30-60 minute workout one partakes in, and very little talk about the other 23 hours of the day!
An effective recovery will make all the difference in achieving your fitness goals whether they are about weight loss, muscle building, cardio improvement, or something entirely different. The better you recover, the better you will feel and the more effective you can make your next workout! Additionally, a productive recovery will reduce the risk of injury which can set people back for weeks, months, or even years.
Let me make this extremely clear, a recovery day is not just a “non-workout” day. I call that a rest day -- i.e. one in which you have no activity or workout planned. A proper recovery day is purposeful, and has three important components: it is active; it is timed well; and it is appropriate.
Recovery is active. Sitting on the couch all day is not recovering. In fact, if you’ve done an intense workout and then sit at a desk for 8+ hours, your post-workout stiffness will increase and put you at risk for injury. In extreme cases, someone who has sat for hours after an intense workout, can actually strain their lower back by improperly getting up from their chair.
There is a timing to recovery. A cool-down immediately post workout is a great way to safely bring the heart rate down. There is a window of time post workout when the body can benefit from stretching (I advise a dynamic movement cool-down) and eating a post-workout meal or snack.
Timing is also an important consideration when structuring your workout. Most of us do not have the desire or luxury to workout on a daily basis. Workouts can be optimized by having a structured routine of muscle-building, cardio, cross training, and active recovery. I build recovery days into a workout regimen.