How To Recover From Exercise Faster

How To Recover From Exercise Faster


Sometimes, it feels like fitness trends move faster than a HIIT class – and smart recovery is quickly gaining the same traction as efficient training. To find out more about the latest strategies for speeding up recovery, SLMan asked two fitness how best to get your body back on track.

Know When To Take A Rest Day

“Recovery is a crucial part of your fitness journey. Sometimes people push and push, thinking more is better – but this can stall your progress and lead to injury. There are obvious indications of overtraining. If your performance declines, if you’re sore all the time, or if you just feel rotten, you’re probably overdoing it. One tangible metric is to take your resting heart rate first thing in the morning. If it starts to climb, you’re overtraining. It’s a good idea to take a day off each week, but that doesn’t mean you need to lie in bed all day. You can get up and move – maybe take a walk or do some restorative yoga, foam rolling, or stretching to get the blood circulating through your muscles – but don’t hammer yourself. Let your body heal.” – Denis Faye, competitive endurance athlete and executive director of nutrition at


Get The Balance Right

“Training hard and training consistently is key to progression in fitness. However, many training programmes include prolonged bouts of stress with no scheduled recovery. We do need an aspect of fatigue and inflammation to induce adaptation to the training stimulus, but if the balance is wrong, over time, prolonged stress to the body without adequate rest can be incredibly detrimental to the individual. It can lead to injury, hormone imbalance, underperformance, decreased immunity, sleep disturbance, and fatigue. An individual’s ability to recover from a workout is just as important as the workout itself. It may help to plan your training in locks – for example, building training for three weeks and on the fourth week, scale it back by reducing weight, intensity or volume.” – Alex Cook, EXALT resident sports and endurance dietitian


Try Percussive Therapy

“Percussive massage devices, like the Theragun, are a great way to massage sore muscles and promote circulation. You just need to make sure you’re using them correctly. If you just lightly brush over muscles and enjoy the pleasant tickle, you just threw away a few hundred pounds. If you dig into those trigger points and work out the kinks, it’s a great tool—just make sure you know what you’re doing so you don’t injure yourself.” – Denis

Hit The Pillow

“Anyone committed to fitness—or just wellness—knows the benefits of a good night’s sleep. There are plenty of studies, which show your muscles experience profound recovery when you sleep thanks to increased protein synthesis (aka muscle repair) and growth hormone release. And on the subject of hormones, a lack of sleep can raise cortisol and lower testosterone, which can take their toll on your fitness levels. Try to get seven to eight hours of sleep every night, on a regular basis – not sleeping sufficiently on a regular basis means you’re grinding your gears and increasing your stress level.” – Denis

Prioritise Protein

“Protein’s main role in recovery is that it’s the main driver for muscle protein synthesis, the process that instigates muscle repair and adaptation post-exercise.  It’s not essential for immediate post-session recovery (i.e. it won’t make any difference to performance in a second session a few hours later) but plays a large part in long-term recovery and adaptation to training. Getting into the habit of having at least 20g protein post-session, then regularly at each meal for the remainder of the day will ensure adequate adaptation and recovery to training sessions. If time is precious, try a meal-replacement shake.” – Alex

…But Don’t Discount Carbs

“Protein is universally beneficial when it comes to recovery, but carbs also play a crucial role. The ketogenic diet and other low-carb solutions are fine for weight loss, if done right, but aren’t the answer to an active lifestyle. Ketones just won’t provide the fast fuel you need to hammer a workout. That said, it’s all about balance. Somewhere between 40% and 50% of your calories should come from carbs. You don’t need more than that unless you’re a serious endurance athlete and you’re spending hours each day on the bike or in your runners. If I have been on a long training ride, my go-to refuel dish is burritos – they are great for restoring depleted glycogen. If I’m doing a gym-based workout, my go-to is a protein shake, made with Beachbody’s Recover, almond milk and frozen fruit. Fruit is a great way to pack in antioxidants, which can help the body recover from the stress of exercise.” – Denis

Know How To Fuel Up

“If your sport is endurance based, we have enough carbohydrate (muscle glycogen) stored to last for 90 minutes of exercise. If you don’t replenish these stores of carbohydrate after you finish exercising, your next training session will suffer. If you have 24 hours between sessions, simply follow your daily carb needs appropriate for your level of activity (for most of us this would be ensuring you eat carbohydrates at each meal and after training) and having a well-balanced meal within an hour of finishing exercise. Simple, but effective. If you have less than eight hours between sessions, or you have done a gruelling fasted session this is where you need to be more exact. Take approximately 1g carbs/kg of body weight each hour for three to four hours to maximise glycogen synthesis.” – Alex

Buy A Foam Roller

“After an intense bout of exercise, foam rolling is thought to reduce muscle fatigue and soreness and as a result, improve performance. Individuals use their own body mass on a foam roller to exert pressure on soft tissue, almost a form of self-massage. A recent study tested the effect of foam rolling on a group of volunteers doing leg extension exercises. It found that it took less effort for them to complete the exercise after two minutes of foam rolling than after two minutes of complete rest. As a result, those who repeated this protocol for three days were able to perform better leg extensions than those who did not foam roll at all. However, it is still unknown how foam rolling really works, and studies suggest it may provide more short-term benefits, so stick to brief stints pre and post-workout.” – Alex

Embrace Cryotherapy

“Ice baths have been used by elite and amateur athlete for years to help speed up recovery after training and competition. They work by constricting blood vessels and decreasing metabolic activity, which in turn reduces swelling and tissue breakdown. The evidence behind cold water immersion and a reduction on muscle soreness and acute recovery is pretty convincing, although it’s worth knowing excessive ice therapy can decrease muscle synthesis. Consider an ice bath if you’re looking for speedy recovery in between competitions, but not if you want your muscles to become stronger in the long-run.” – Alex


Don’t Forget To Hydrate

“Hydration is a key factor for effective recovery. As soon as you have finished training, drink 500ml of fluid. After that, drink little and often until your urine is clear or you have reached your pre-workout weight. If you sweat a lot, you may want to consider adding electrolytes to aid the hydration process. If you want the exact science, aim for 1.5 litres of fluid for every 1kg lost in weight as sweat during exercise.” – Alex

Don’t Change Rest Day Nutrition

“Many people tend to reduce their energy intake on rest days, but this is counterproductive. Your body needs the right nutrients to refuel and adapt to your training load, so see it as a weekly approach, and don’t take it day-by-day. To keep things simple, aim for three well-balanced meals a day with protein, healthy fats (which can regulate some of the stress and inflammation triggered by hard exercise) and plenty of fruit and veg. Also remember you should be eating carbs at every meal – rest day or not.” – Alex


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*DISCLAIMER: Features published by SLMan are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programmes.

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