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Recovery 101: Beat the soreness & be ready for your next workout!

If you've ever pushed your body to the limit during a high-intensity workout session (oh, HR Zone 5, it's you again...), you know that thought: "there's no way I am going to be able to move tomorrow". You know the feeling, right? The timer stops or the workout ends and you just lay on the floor, tasting pennies and questioning your own decision-making ability.

While not every workout should be a Zone 5 threshold experience, those are typically the workouts that force us to consider "what am I going to do to get my mind & body back to normal before tomorrow?" We never have that thought about those Zone 2 days, do we?

What if we thought about what happens AFTER the workout, the same way that we thought about what happens BEFORE or DURING the workout?

What you do for your mind & body post-workout is just as crucial as the pre- and the workout itself. Just a simple understanding of this process can really help you enhance performance, prevent injuries, and optimize your overall fitness.

Understanding the Importance of Recovery

Before we unpack any strategies of effective recovery, it's essential to understand why it even matters. When you engage in any intense physical activity, your muscles undergo stress and micro-tears. Proper recovery allows these muscles to repair and grow stronger, leading to improved strength, balance, mobility, and performance over time. Neglecting recovery can result in fatigue, decreased performance, and increased risk of injury - all barriers to achieving your fitness goals. This begs the question:

🤔 Why set a fitness goal, and then do what keeps you from reaching it?

The Recovery Process Demystified

Recovery is not just about kicking back on the couch; it involves a strategic approach to help your body bounce back faster and stronger. Here are some foundational key elements of the recovery process that everyone should embrace:

Fueling our bodies with the right quantity and quality of nutrients helps speed up our recovery.

  1. Make sure to replenish glycogen stores by consuming a meal rich in carbs and protein. The best timing for this is within an hour post-workout.

  2. 🗣️ "But what about protein shakes?" - I can hear your thoughts from here. This is one of the most common questions I get. As long as you aren't replacing a meal with a shake, great! Be sure to get MOST of your protein from whole foods, but we're talking about post-workout recovery... Within 30 minutes post-workout is best for liquid forms of protein/carbs - it will bypass the digestion process and dump straight into your bloodstream and go directly to the muscles for repair/recovery. No passing Go, no collecting $200.

  3. Hydration is equally important - drink "plenty of water" to help flush out toxins (lactic acid and all those nasty soreness juices) and aid in muscle recovery. "Plenty of Water" means you should be getting somewhere around 1/2 oz of water per pound of body weight over the course of the day. Just don't try to guzzle it all at once right before bed. Also, be sure that you are adding elecrolytes to your water every now and then. I personally use, recommend, and stock LMNT here at the gym and have noticed a big time increase in recovery and hydration by drining 1 packet a day with my normal water intake. 😉

Play hard. Rest equally hard. Your body will thank you for it.

  1. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night to optimize recovery. Be sure to give yourself a "sleep opportunity" by aiming for about 9 hours in bed. This means you'll likely land around 8 hours or sleep by the time you factor in the awake stage of our typical sleep cycles.

  2. Additionally, incorporate "Active Recovery" & "Total Rest" days into your training schedule to allow your muscles to recover fully. For Active Recovery, e ngage in light exercise-related activities such as yoga/mobility work, swimming, hiking, or walking on your rest days. These are intentional, but very low-intensity efforts (think HR Zone 2 max!). Active Recovery promotes blood flow to the muscles, aiding in their repair and reducing stiffness. Total Rest days probably look like your casual Sunday with no "exercise-related activity".

Don't neglect the maintenance. It's what keeps that vehicle ready to move when you need it to.

  1. Incorporating dynamic stretches and foam rolling into your routine can improve flexibility, reduce muscle soreness, and enhance recovery. Target any sore spots, but as always, don't stretch cold muscles. Foam roll them, or massage them out, fine. The last thing you want to do is strain/tear a muscle in recovery! This is where a sauna can come in clutch. Spend a few minutes getting your body warm, and then dive into a solid stretching routine from there.

Advanced Recovery Strategies

For those looking to take their recovery to the next level, consider integrating these advanced strategies into your routine:

  • Cryotherapy involves exposing your body to cold temperatures to reduce inflammation and promote recovery. Consider incorporating cryotherapy sessions into your recovery plan for faster muscle recovery. Don't have a Cryo chamber at home? Bruce Wayne isn't your uncle? That's fine. Fill up your bathtub with water and dump some ice in it, or use that one knob in the shower that you've probably never used before - you know, the one with the blue on it - it makes the water colder sometimes... Yea that one. Just submerge down to your neck in a tub of cold water, or get your neck under cold shower water (cold! not lukewarm!). This will "reset" your central nervous system and speed up that recovery.

  • Compression garments or devices can improve blood circulation, reduce muscle soreness, and expedite the removal of metabolic waste products from your muscles. Wear compression gear post-workout to aid in recovery.

  • A sports massage from a qualified therapist can work wonders for your muscle recovery. Massage helps alleviate muscle tension, improve blood flow, and accelerate the healing process. Obviously, I am talking about someone who really knows what they are doing, not just your spouse, although that can be helpful as well 😉.

Mastering recovery is the often overlooked key to unlocking longevity and achieving peak performance. It's really vital to getting stronger, moving well, and just living the life you want to live. By prioritizing nutrition, rest, mobility work, and advanced recovery strategies, you can ensure that your body is primed for success... and the next day's workout. Remember, recovery is not a luxury, or something we should do out of desperation, but it's a necessity on any fitness journey. So, embrace these recovery techniques, listen to your body, and watch your performance take off! 🚀

Now go crush your workouts and recover like a champion!

If you have any great recovery techniques, feel free to share your personal process in the comments section, or email and we'll try to highlight a few in future content.

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