10 Ways to Speed Workout Recovery and Gain Performance

Spring is the time of year when many athletes ramp up their training in order to prepare for racing. Athletes should also ramp up their recovery habits to stay in balance.

Over-reaching is required to stimulate your body to adapt. Full recovery is required to allow that adaptation to take place. Partial or no recovery leads to partial adaptation, lack of performance gains and eventually, over-training.

The quicker and more complete your recovery from a workout, the faster you can move on to your next quality training session. The more total sessions you have the energy for, the faster you will ultimately be.

Top Secret Ergogenic = Full Recovery

No matter what you do, when you extend yourself, your body requires a specific amount of time to refuel and repair. Full recovery takes time.

USA Triathlon Level II coach Steve Seide says: "Quality training time is extremely valuable. By quality, I mean when you are fully recovered and able to put in complete effort and focus. These sessions should be spent wisely."

Plan adequate rest into your weekly routine and schedule a rest week every third or fourth week. Manipulate volume and intensity during rest weeks to unload accumulated fatigue, maintain fitness and sharpen performance.

Recently, I did a big volume, three-day block of training. As an athlete, it was thrilling to put down some huge training. As a coach, I know it should take a week to recover and produce benefits from this type of training.

10 Ways to Speed Recovery

1. Daily Nutrition Habits
Daily nutrition dictates the health status of your body, plus the amount of training you can withstand and adapt to. What you eat and drink every day sets your athletic potential. If you eat poorly on a daily basis, your athletic potential ceiling will be low.

"You can wear yourself out with bad nutrition even faster than by exercise without discipline," advises Ultrafit coach Tom Rodgers.

Maintaining daily optimal health through a nutritious diet will do more to speed your recovery from workouts than any other factor.

2. Sleep Habits
Sleep is vital for recovery. Sleep is when your body does its best repairing and rebuilding. Skimp on sleep and you will delay recovery. Through the course of a night's sleep, you cycle through several phases. During the slow-wave stage, growth hormone is released by the pituitary gland, stimulating tissue repair.

3. During-Exercise Nutrition Habits
Fueling and hydrating properly during exercise will put you, at the end of a session, in the best possible shape, needing the least total recovery. For easy workouts of less than an hour, water will suffice. For workouts lasting longer than one hour you should consume a sport drink containing carbohydrates, electrolytes and possibly protein (if your GI system is receptive to this).

Hydration and electrolyte replacement: Your body's thirst drive depends on two things: an increase in blood salt concentration and a decrease in blood volume. Both of these occur when you sweat. Research has shown your body will absorb and retain more fluid when electrolytes such as sodium are added to whatever you are drinking. Drinking plain water dilutes the sodium in your blood and shuts off your thirst mechanism, so you drink less and tend not to hydrate fully.

Refueling: An athlete can burn more than 900 calories per hour during exercise. However, research contends the maximum rate at which carbohydrate can be absorbed from the stomach and processed by the liver is 1 gram per minute. This is a measly 240 calories per hour, so replacing every calorie burned is an impossible task. Focus on replenishing as much carbohydrate as your body can process. Consuming more than this will leave you bloated.

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