Get Your Sh*t Together and Maximize Your Gains!
Recovery begins the second your workout ends. While it’s obviously important to bust your butt day-to-day at the gym, I would argue that what you do outside the gym has just as big of an impact as what you do in the gym when it comes to achieving goals and living a healthy lifestyle. Don’t let your hard work in the gym go to waste by being lazy and naive to all other aspects of life. Below I outline some of the key components people of all fitness levels should focus on. While not everyone’s goals may be the same, each of the factors below have an impact on overall fitness and wellbeing!
The topic of nutrition with regards to fitness and working out is a beast! So, let’s keep it simple: Ideally, a moderate to large size meal should be consumed post-workout. Amounts of macronutrients (protein/ carbohydrate/ fat) will vary depending on the individual’s goals and the nature of their workout completed. This is arguably the most important meal of the day which will help replenish your body’s energy stores and help build muscle mass. Eating real foods is your best bet. If it’s packaged with a bunch of sketchy sounding ingredients you can’t pronounce, drop it! Eat enough to support your physical demands of the day, nothing more.
Often overlooked, most of us aren’t drinking enough water throughout the day. Top athletes weight themselves before and after training to see how much water they need to replace. I don’t think most of us need to go to this extent, but making sure you grab water after your workout is important. This is extra important if you drink a protein shake post-workout. Waiting for your brain to chime in and tell you you’re thirsty isn’t the best hydration strategy since thirst is often a poor indicator of hydration.
I like to recommend drinking 1 gallon of water spread out throughout the day. Avoid drinking too much water too quickly, as this isn’t good for the levels of sodium in your blood (Google: hyponatremia). If you drink more than 1 gallon of water per day, it may be beneficial to supplement with an electrolyte mix.
Sleep is underrated!! The magic happens when we sleep! I honestly wouldn’t be offended if you paused mid-article to go take a nap. Hormones supporting muscle growth and recovery are released as we sleep. Getting 7-9 hours of uninterrupted quality sleep per night in a dark and cool room is optimal. If you can’t manage that much sleep during the night, work a nap in mid-day if possible. Sleep is essentially an opportunity to recover quicker. Plus, who doesn’t love sleep?
One thing that definitely makes me a sad panda is knowing a lot of people hit the gym hard, squat heavy weights, and then don’t move much the rest of the day. After exercise, muscles and tissues are still warm and pliable. This is a perfect time to hit some stretching and mobility (or yoga).
Walking is also an important aspect of recovery and staying active. Our muscles aid in flushing out byproducts via the lymphatic system when we move and walk, which helps promote recovery. Aim to hit at least 10,000 steps per day.
Set a timer at work and shoot to get up and move around every 20-30 minutes to get your hips and legs stretched out. Your ass is not made to be laminated to a chair all day.
As silly as it sounds, your mindset plays a huge role in achieving goals. First off, celebrate the fact that you even made it to the gym! You had the time and energy to make it, while many others chose the easy way out and stayed at home on the couch. Reflecting on what went right and what you can improve on is also beneficial. Did you give it 100% during the workout, or did you feel like you slacked a little bit? Use the small day-to-day victories as positive reinforcement and show up tomorrow with a positive attitude ready to kick some ass!
These are just a few strategies to implement in order to make sure you’re getting the most out of your workouts! Remember, it’s not about forcing huge change right now, but rather making small changes and creating habits for the long term.
“Even though you may not feel or look the part now, you must envision yourself in your ideal state. There is no such thing as perfection, only perfect effort. Through practicing a “perfect” version of ourselves mentally, we’ll slowly become that person in real life.” – Mark Devine of SealFIT.
Dr. Mobley, DC