I will be the first to admit that I am lazy! I want to know the fastest, most convenient, smartest way to exercise and get the most out of my workout. Getting the most out of a workout is a multifaceted phenomenon, including proper recovery, proper intensity, controlling stress and increasing tension of your muscles to name a few. But for optimal recovery purposes, three aspects of our rest should be evaluated: our nutrition, rest days and sleep.
Nutritionally, a basic rule of thumb is to get a 4:1 – carbohydrate to protein ratio into your body within half an hour of your workouts1. After long and intense workouts, glycogen (stored Carbs and your bodies “go to” energy source during exercise) levels are decreased and need to be restored. By consuming carbohydrates after your workout, you will help fulfill this requirement. Protein on the other hand, will provide the body with amino acids that will help rebuild the muscle you have torn down during your training. The combination of the two will speed the recovery process more effectively than supplementing with just one or the other. In fact, one study found that “athletes who refueled with carbohydrate and protein had 100 percent greater muscle glycogen stores than those who only ate carbohydrate”1.
A solid rest and recovery approach is vital to your training. Without rest, you can find yourself over trained, tired or injured. Resting or off days should be used to your advantage; treat your muscles to some relaxation. But this does not mean you should become a couch potato either. Think of a low-intensity physical activity that brings you immense enjoyment like hiking, a leisurely bike ride or swimming. Take 30 minutes out of your rest day and dedicate it to that activity.
Sleep is often over looked when it comes to training. Throughout your workouts, you are constantly tearing down your muscle. But the truth is that your muscles are rebuilding best during your sleep. Therefore, we must utilize sleep to our advantage. A recent study found that people who had poor sleeping habits had a greater chance of losing lean muscle mass by 60% and then their total fat mass losses were decreased by 55%2. Additionally, the study gathered that the lean muscle mass was being broken down and used as energy due to a reduction in fat oxidation. The bottom line is that sleep matters too!
Finally, stress is the inability to cope with a threat (real or imagined) to your well-being, which results in a series of responses and adaptations by your body. Stress affects the body, your emotions, your mind, and your behavior. Stress has the ability to sabotage any effort you take with regard to exercise, diet, and supplementation. Therefore, regular stress management is critical for improving workout efficiency.
There you go, be lazy like me and still get the most of your workout; feel more fit, rested, and most importantly enjoy life!
- Eating After Exercise – What to Eat After a Workout. http://sportsmedicine.about.com/cs/nutrition/a/aa081403.htm. Accessed August 19, 2013.
- Mark’s Daily Apple Website. How to Get Fitter, Faster and Stronger with Quality Sleep. http://www.marksdailyapple.com/how-to-get-fitter-faster-and-stronger-with-quality-sleep/#axzz2cdKVGL1w. Accessed August 21,