You know that feeling of being exhausted but happy after a sweaty workout? You're filled with pride, and you can't wait to keep going to get the next day's dose of positive energy?
It doesn't matter whether you're an amateur athlete or a professional: we all know the feeling. However, there are significant differences in the duration of regeneration. The days after a strenuous workout, especially for amateur athletes, are characterized by sore muscles and physical exhaustion, which slow down you and your sense of euphoria. In these periods, you can hardly think about sports.
In the worst case scenario, you wind up with recovery periods between training sessions that get too long. Here you'll find out how you can positively influence your body's regeneration period, in order to get back into the ring faster.
Active und passive regeneration
1: Post-workout cool down
2: Stretching und mobilization
3: Contrast showers
Conclusion: Fixed routines change your habits – for the better
ACTIVE AND PASSIVE REGENERATION
When it comes to recovery, we have to distinguish between passive and active regeneration. While our body slowly compensates for the exertion of training and recovers during passive regeneration, active regeneration is about accelerating this recovery process.
There are various ways of activating the body's self-healing processes. What works in each case is as individual as each of us. The good news: There are methods that have proven to be effective over the past few decades and can be easily integrated into your training sessions and everyday life.
COOL DOWN AFTER TRAINING
Most athletes are well aware of the importance of an intense warm-up. After your workout, you should also be giving your body the opportunity to slowly reduce its stress levels.
As a result, your breathing and cardiovascular system will return to normal and metabolic products (e.g. lactate) will break down more quickly. You'll also loosen your muscles, and the muscle tension decreases.
Another positive effect: You can also mentally cool down. This is very important after workouts in the evening and promotes restful sleep. The time from workout to bedtime is otherwise often so short that the body will not be able to shut down properly. The results: you're wide awake and cannot fall asleep.
The solution is a cool-down. Ten minutes at a low intensity are usually enough to achieve a positive effect. Examples: ten minutes of an easy jog, rowing, or cycling. Depending on the strained muscles, light bicep curls also help to further break down metabolic products such as lactate.
STRETCHING AND MOBILIZATION
After an intense session, the muscles are under a lot of strain. Micro-traumas occur in your muscles, which the body now has to repair. Some subscribe to the theory that intense stretching immediately after training may intensify small muscle damage, and regeneration takes even longer.
This is opposed to the theory that stretching promotes blood circulation and helps with regeneration. We cannot make an absolute recommendation for intense stretching after training either way, but there is nothing wrong with individual sessions at a different time (e.g. on non-training days).
Stretching does improve your mobility, a motor skill. With so-called static stretching, you slowly assume the stretching position and hold it at its maximum for a certain time (usually 30–90 seconds). There is no movement in this end position.
With dynamic stretching, you alternately enter and exit the stretching position. Your muscles are stretched through slightly springy movements within the maximum possible joint end position. You should perform the movement slowly, in a controlled manner, and with a relatively small range of motion.
Important: Do not force any sweeping or jerky movements.
A shower after your workout not only freshens you up, but can also support regeneration. Alternate between warm and cold water for 30 to 40 seconds to prevent sore muscles and stimulate blood circulation. For the best possible effect, repeat five to eight times.
Every workout consumes energy. This should be replenished after physical exertion so that your body can regenerate. A two-to-one combination of complex, readily available carbohydrates and proteins works best (total amounts will vary according to individual body weight and exercise level). You should avoid fats, as they slow down the absorption of nutrients in the body.
Depending on the intensity of your workout, your body needs 500 to 700ml of water per hour. Since your body is dependent on a permanent and regular supply of liquid, the liquid balance should always be balanced promptly.
For longer sessions, it is also advisable to take in electrolytes (including sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and chloride) in addition to fluids, as your body excretes them when you sweat.
Body and mind are closely connected and our thoughts often have a direct impact on our actions. Therefore, take the time to work on your inner self. Just ten minutes of relaxation or meditation can help reduce muscle tension and lactate in the body.
The easiest and most effective way to recover faster is to get enough sleep. During sleep, the body recovers, processes training stimuli, repairs muscle and tissue damage, and makes new neural connections. The more strenuous the workout (and the more stressful your everyday life), the more sleep you need.
For most people, 7.5 to 8 hours is ideal. If you sleep fewer than seven hours continuously, your body may react with a slowed down metabolism and a weakened immune system. Cardiovascular diseases can also result.
Fixed routines change your habits — for the better
It's not exactly rocket science, right? But then how come so many athletes don't manage to sustainably improve their regeneration periods? Often, there is simply a lack of a routine that can be easily integrated into everyday (and training) life. Make it a goal to change your habits and follow a fixed post-workout ritual in order to do so.
The tips in the article build on each other step by step. Once these steps are ingrained, they should become a habit and positive results will follow.