The quicker you recover from a hard workout, the quicker you can go again, right?
Mastering your recovery strategy can make-or-break your health and fitness goals, whether you’re riding bikes, training for marathons, or getting to the gym.
Get your post-exercise recovery right and you’ll progress at pace, get it wrong and you’ll go nowhere, fast.
Fortunately, there’s a few key things you can do to recover fast, and they’re all pretty easy!
Here’s PRO BIKE TOOL’S top tips for rapid post-workout recovery :
The second most crucial component of your recovery strategy is also pretty awesome, and that’s related to your post-ride refuel.
A long bike ride or hard interval session will leave your body depleted of energy-giving carbohydrate and muscle-maintaining protein. It’s believed that re-stocking these nutrients soon after a session will stimulate faster muscle repair and replenishment, and have you back in the saddle soon than otherwise.
Aim to take in 20 - 30g of protein and a healthy hit of carbs within an hour of training.
This can be a quick snack or a bigger meal. Short on time? Try a protein shake, bowl of cereal or peanut butter on toast. If you can fit in a full meal, aim for a well-balanced plate of protein, carbs and healthy fats. And be sure to have a good helping of fruit or veg!
The most important element of recovery is one of the most enjoyable – sleep.
The body releases Human Growth Hormone when we sleep, a chemical which boosts muscle growth and repair and helps us build back stronger. Sleep also lowers the level of Cortisol in our body, a hormone which primes us for action and can hinder your body’s ability to fully rest.
Typically, we need seven to eight hours per night for effective sleep, but this can vary by the individual. And if you have the time, there’s definitely nothing wrong with aiming for eight or nine hours a night!
A 30-minute power nap after a particularly tough ride has also been shown to work wonders in kick-starting the body’s recovery processes. However, be sure to set an alarm so you don’t sleep too long, or you’ll feel drowsy for some time afterwards due to so-called "sleep intertia."
MASSAGE, FOAM ROLLING AND STRETCHING
A little TLC for your tired muscles can go a long way.
A professional massage, or more simply a good home session with a foam roller or lacrosse ball, can help loosen tight and tired muscles and keep them prime for sessions to come.
Applying pressure to muscles with a foam roller or lacrosse ball loosens adhesions between the muscle and tissues around it to keep movement smooth and supple.
For a cyclist, the key areas to work on are typically glutes and hip Flexors (use a lacrosse ball for these) and the IT band / quads and calves (use a foam roller for these).
Stretching is another great way to recover faster. A little gentle stretching after your workouts increases the range of movement of your joints, relaxes tight and tired legs, and keeps your body flexible and efficient.
Try incorporating just 10 minutes of stretching into your daily routine and you’re sure to feel the difference.
A GOOD TRAINING PLAN
Finally, a good training plan will ensure recovery-bringing downtime is a structured feature of your workout week.
A good training plan will balance harder, more stressful days with easier days that allow you the day off altogether or where you do a little active recovery – be that a short easy bike ride, easy swim or even a long walk.
A well-structured plan will ensure you’re ready to go full for the tough sessions and are afforded the appropriate time to recover afterwards. This is the key to long-term progression.
So why not try a training plan?! A professional coach is ideal but may be pricey, but there are plenty of online templates you can follow as an alternative.