Recovery, in my opinion, is where progress is made and I believe it to be the most important aspect of any exercise program. It doesn’t matter how much and/or how hard you train if you’re recovery is lacking, eventually you’re going to run out of steam, performance is going to suffer and your risk of injury increases.
Two extremely important aspects of recovery are: sleep and hydration.
Sleep: Arguably the most important element of recovery. If nothing else, make sure you get some good quality sleep! Sleep deprivation can have serious negative consequences. Overtime it can result in changes in hormone levels, particularly those related to stress, muscle recovery, and mood. Lack of sleep can increase cortisol levels (this is your stress hormone), decrease levels of human growth hormone (HGH), which is essential for tissue repair and reduce the rate of glucose metabolism (this is our main source of energy for exercise).
Aim for 8-9hrs of sleep a night. I also recommend getting to sleep before 10pm.
Hydration: I can’t stress how important staying hydrated is for your performance! When the body is dehydrated it struggles to function optimally– think about a car, if you don’t replace the oil and other fluid levels of the car it’s going to struggle.
If the fluid lost from one training session is not replaced this will negatively impact any subsequent training sessions. Research suggests that if you are 1% dehydrated it can negatively affect your performance by as much as 10% -12%, due to impaired sweating.
Replacing fluids is vital for recovery, it will help to flush out any toxins, reduce muscle soreness/stiffness and help to replenish the body.
On top of the recommended 2L/day, you should be drinking a minimum 1L of fluid for every 1 hour of exercise.
The diagram below highlights the importance of water.