Introduction & Nutritional Methods.
Recuperation or recovery can be split in to several sub-categories. Russian sports scientists have long classified recuperation as being either pedagogical (stemming from the training plan), medico-biological (including tactile and pharmacological means) or psychological (mental recuperation).
Most advanced strength athletes use all three classes of recuperation whether they know it or not but there is a definite tendency amongst Western European and American athletes to neglect pedagogical and psychological restoration in favor of gross overuse of medico-biological means.
Although I am all in favor of cry therapy, myofascial release, liniments, massage etc I would much rather see athletes expend a little more energy on their program design so they did not have to spend so much time "forcing" recuperation.
This would mean moving to a training model that emphasized the relationship between neural fatigue and preparedness / fitness as being the "key" to training success rather than being a secondary consideration to weight on the bar, number of reps etc.
In this way the gross amount of recuperation methods used would be less, and their application would be more specific to the particular type of fatigue encountered.
Here Is A List Of The More Common Means Used (Siff):
- Passive Physical Means
- Classical massage
- PNF (Neuromuscular means)
- Myofascial trigger point massage
- Stretching techniques
- Therapeutic Touch
- Electronic technology
- Laser therapy
- Passive machines
- Barotherapy (pressure)
- Balneo-therapy (baths)
- Active Physical Means
- PNF (Neuromuscular means)
- Self-massage (active/passive)
- Physical activity
- Recreational sport
- Manual labour
- Postural realignment
- Breathing regimens
- Progressive relaxation
- Tai Chi
Table B: Psychological Means Of Restoration
- Autogenic training
- Operant conditioning
- Visualization/ Guided imagery
- Sensory deprivation/modification
- Screaming/shouting Music/sound therapy
- Biofeedback training
- Neurolinguistic programming
With that in mind let us now look at the application of a few of the more popular methods of enhancing recuperation from strength training exercise.
We will begin with the basics of how nutrition influences recovery and move on from there to mental techniques in part two, use of ice and water in part three, tactile means such as massage and myofascial release in part four and supplemental means in part five.
After moderate to high volume workouts you will have depleted glycogen stores and most likely be mildly dehydrated. The easiest way to avoid this situation is to ensure a constant flow of carbs and fluid into the body before, during and after training.
Being fully hydrated ensures that you can deliver your best performances whilst training and also kick start the recovery process as soon as you are finished with the weights.
Post exercise glycogen storage is one of the key factors that dictate how long you take to recover from exercise, and how good (or bad!) your performance in a subsequent bout of exercise several days later will be.
In short if you are squatting twice a week, for example, then you can ruin any chance of progression in the 2nd session merely by skipping your carb / hydration drink before during and after the first workout.
The ideal beverage to consume at this time would be a mix of 5-7% long polymer carbs (high quality maltodextrin, for instance), along with a few grams of BCAA, electrolytes, minerals etc in about 1 liter of water.
There are countless formulas on the market and I am loathe to recommend any one brand so I will leave that choice to the reader but bear in mind if it tastes good, you will drink more of it so DO pay attention to the taste and moth feel of the product.
This is the so-called "window of opportunity" for glycogen replenishment, and to ignore it is to severely compromise your recovery ability. Basically your body will convert carbohydrates in to glycogen stores around 6 times faster following intense exercise than at other times and it is highly unlikely to store fat at this time.
This dictates that immediately following exercise you should attempt to provide your body with glycogen as quickly as possible by dramatically increasing your carbohydrate intake for two to four hours.
At the same time protein synthesis is elevated immediately after strength training sessions so you should ensure that you get some high quality protein at this time to.
Most bodybuilders prefer a liquid supplement at this time as it is easily absorbed and assimilated. Again, I will not recommend a brand but leave it to the reader's discretion.
Post exercise try to consume mainly sources of complex carbohydrates such as whole wheat pasta, sweet potatoes, whole meal bread, bagels, cereals etc. There is little evidence to support the notion that carbohydrates that cause a large release of insulin are required to replenish stores, so there is no need to use huge amounts of simple sugars at this time.
Here are a few examples of single portion carb sources to give you an idea of the food volume you will be eating. I see the best results in my athletes when they get around 1g carbs / Kg of body mass (.5g / lb) within 90 minute of exercise.
Carbohydrates (22 - 24 grams each)
4 oz potatoes, boiled.
1 large banana
4 oz yams, baked
3/4 cup rice, cooked.
1 oz pasta (dry weight)
8 oz orange juice
1 slice whole grain bread
1 small bagel
1 1/2 oz oatmeal (dry weight)
3 rice cakes
1 cup pineapple (no juice)
1 large apple
1 cup blueberries
2 Fig Newton cookies
Next up on the bill are fluids. The easiest way to judge fluid replacement needs is to weigh yourself before and after your workout. You will probably lose between 1 and 3 pounds of weight in a typical session with the weights if you do not follow the "before, during and after" guidelines above.
This equates to approximately 1 to 3 pints of fluid that need to be replaced to return your body to its pre-exercise level. If you are smart and follow the guidelines then you will only have a few ounces to make up and your post workout protein / carb shake should provide enough fluids to cover it.
With regard to general good nutrition I think we all know what to do by now. Eat good clean food several times a day or don't expect to recover from exercise very well. Protein needs are around 1.5g / lb or higher for an athlete using AAS.
If following a lower carb diet then obviously more protein and fats will be needed. Essential fatty acids (EFA's) aid recovery so a "low fat" diet should not be followed - eat 20-30% of calories from fats but make sure they are good clean sources such as fish oils, flax oil etc.
Remember that Omega 6 fatty acids (linoleic) are PRO-inflammatory and will actually slow recovery from training. That means that the more high linoleic junk foods (fried food, hydrogenated oils, margarines, processed foods etc) that you eat the slower your recovery will be. Eat to train and recover to train again, not just to grow!
In part two I will deal with mental techniques to enhance recovery. In the meantime you may contact me at
firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or comments.
About The Author
Gavin Laird owns and operates his private training facility "Results Gym" in Aberdeen, Scotland. He trains numerous International caliber athletes hands on and provides advice and consultation to many others via his online consultation service. He can be contacted by Email to email@example.com or via his website at www.results-sports.com