Updated: Apr 2, 2020
What is recovery?
Recovery is the process of rest after training. Recovery is underrated in the fitness community and I have been there when I trained for 80 days in a row. Recovery gives the muscles time to repair which is essential for high-level performance in any sport.
What happens during recovery?
Three main processes take place during the period of recovering, these are:
energy store replenishment
Repairing microtears in the muscle is important as it makes the trained muscle stronger and larger. The replenishing of energy stores (glycogen) is also important for maximal sports performance.
If you do not allow for sufficient recovery after exercise, your body can break down and function submaximal to its potential.
Different types of recovery
The most executed type of recovery is short-term. This is normally done unintentionally as many people can't be bothered to stick to a workout program. This type of recovery is the most important as it is day-to-day.
To correctly perform short-term recovery (active recovery) you must perform a low-intensity exercise in the hours after an intense effort. This could involve walking or low-effort swimming. This helps get blood and protein to the muscles.
You must also replenish any lost fluids that the body may need. This is important in order to prevent any injuries later down the line due to dehydration.
Something that only dedicated athletes need to consider is long-term recovery. Multiple rest days or even a rest-week (de-load week). I cannot stress how beneficial this is for the body's complete recovery.
This type of recovery allows the body to completely rejuvenate and replenish absolutely everything that it was lacking. Taking a de-load week will definitely yield results the following week.
Adapting to your schedule
When the body undergoes stress, it attempts to adapt to that stress in order to progress and gain strength. However, if a tremendous amount is placed on the body too quickly, it will not have time to adapt and the risk of injury will be imminent.
Most athletes have training plans that slowly increase the overall intensity of a workout, giving the body plenty of time to adjust to the new stresses.
Why is sleeping important?
Sleeping is paramount when it comes to adequate recovery of muscles. Not only can a lack of sleep impair the body's ability to repair muscle tissue, but it can also increase the levels of cortisol in the body along with a decrease in glycogen synthesis, meaning less energy.
Related: How does sleep impact recovery?
Ensuring your body gets a correct amount of recovery is certainly no easy task. Everyone is different which means everyone needs a different amount of recovery. To find your level, be sure to experiment with different amounts of time in order to find your groove.