Rest and Recovery

rest and recovery

Optimise rest and recovery to support muscle growth

Training with heavy weights is how we build more muscle, but the training is just the stimulus. It’s what you do next in terms of rest and recovery that determines how much benefit you get from your efforts in the gym.

Adequate sleep, sufficient rest between sessions, a high-protein diet and the intelligent use of supplements ensure your body gets what it needs to grow and recover between training sessions.
Neglecting any element in this rest and recovery plan can limit your gains.

Support recovery with protein

Feeding your muscles with the right amount and the right kind of macronutrients is the key to supporting growth and recovery between hard training sessions.

Doing so rebuilds muscle cells bigger and stronger than before by exploiting the anabolic hormonal cascade that occurs after training.

This requires a regular protein intake from meals and supplements. A blended protein supplement is a convenient and effective product to use between meals to ensure you consume some protein every three hours. This approach provides a steady supply of amino acids to recovering muscles, with a focus on key times during the day.

Important times to consume protein include first thing in the morning for breakfast and a whey protein shake soon after a training session as these doses halt the muscle breakdown caused by the night-time fast and weight lifting.

Lifters can also derive anabolic benefits from consuming protein or amino acids before and during training.

Nail your macronutrient ratios

The composition of your post-workout meal or supplement is another important consideration in the context of optimal recovery.

Specifically, it’s advisable to avoid fats because they slow digestion, which can reduce gastric emptying and delay the digestion and absorption of carbs and protein.

Your body needs these macronutrients after a tough training session to start the rebuilding and repair process by replenishing glycogen stores in muscle cells and the liver and providing the amino acids needed to support muscle tissue repair.

Get sufficient sleep

Various anabolic processes ramp up while we sleep as the body releases important growth hormones, such as growth hormone (GH) and testosterone.

These hormones support processes that repair and rejuvenate our immune, nervous, skeletal and muscular systems. Over 90% of your daily gH supply is released while you sleep, mostly during the first hour, and testosterone levels also rise.

As such, getting between 7-9 hours of sleep a night supports recovery, with the hours before midnight the most beneficial from an anabolic hormone perspective.

You can also support recovery overnight with a casein supplement. This milk-derived protein is absorbed more slowly than whey as it tends to clump in the digestive tract. This characteristic makes it an effective product for use at night, as it provides a sustained release of amino acids that support the muscle-building and tissue repair processes while you sleep.

Keep moving

The concept of taking a full day off from your usual gym routine to recover is an old-school idea that needs a serious refresh.

Proper recovery requires movement, not lounging around. When you’re inactive you can slow or even stop the restorative process, prolong the process to potentially arrive at your next training session under-recovered.

Effective recovery requires movement as it promotes blood flow to drain the exercise metabolites that build up during intense training and shuttle ingested nutrients from food and supplements to recovering muscles and other tissues to boost the repair and recovery process.

Various active recovery techniques can help you recover more effectively, which helps to maximise your body’s adaptations to training.

Active recovery sessions should include short, low-intensity activities like walking, easy jogging, stationary cycling or a non-weight-bearing activity, such as swimming. Mobility drills, foam rolling and stretching offer additional ways to promote blood flow and support recovery.