We’ve all heard the old adage, ‘Abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym’, which put simply means eat healthy nutritious food and cut out the crap. But how do we make sure our legs tone better or our arms get bigger?
HIT OUR WORKOUTS HARD!
No, the answer isn’t just to train smarter or harder even though this is important. It’s how you recover that determines the quality of muscle tone in your body and what shape your body takes as you continue on your fitness journey.
We’ll save the tips for good food and hydration for another day. Instead I’ll give you 3 quick tips on how to get the most out of your recovery through different ways to rest the body.
BREATHE, ESPECIALLY WHILE STRETCHING!
You know, that thing you do without thinking… Yogis have been using breathing techniques for ages in their stretching routines and recently Wimhoff (https://www.wimhofmethod.com/) has added studies and scientific data to the backbone of breathing and created an entirely new movement. The stretching part is important because it will increase blood flow through tired and workout-out areas, encouraging muscle repair and helping remove lactic build up. Try this:
Take 10 mins out before bed with the t.v off and phone on charger, alarm preset. Find a bit of space and perform these 2 stretches (or a combination of stretches that you feel your body needs that day)
Spend 2 minutes on each side of your body and breathe in for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, Exhale through mouth for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4. Keep your eyes closed through the process.
You’ll feel more relaxed as you hit the hay and wake up feeling more refreshed and less lethargic in your muscles.
GET OUTSIDE AND PLAY!
This one sounds a bit strange, how is playing going to help you recover. Take a moment to remember the last public holiday or what your kids got up to during the school holidays (hopefully they went outside). Cricket, swimming at the beach, enjoying the sun, kicking the footy, walking through the national park, surfing or playing a bit of laser tag. These sound like activities that will increase muscular fatigue and tiredness right?
But think about how well you slept that night? Think about the smile and joy that these memories bring back to your face?
When you get outside and enjoy the sun, life and friendship, you release serotonin which has been shown to improve digestion, sleep, mood and sexual desire/function among other things. This creates a better sense of contentment and therefore a more relaxed evening, leading to better rest and recovery.
SLEEP AND SLEEP HARD!
This one is pretty obvious but in the 2016 Sleep Health Survey 33-45% of adults are receiving inadequate sleep. This effects work performance, driving, relationships and of course or physical body.
There are several things you can do to improve your sleep and recovery including the 2 points above but a few bonus things to try and implement include:
• Turning off all screens an hour before bed.
• Magnesium supplements have been shown to help with relaxing the muscles.
• Breathing exercises in bed before sleep, many of which can be found in Wimhoff’s studies.
• Placing yourself in a more relaxed environment, remove work related items from the bedroom.
If you think that you are in the 33-45% of Australian adults that is struggling with sleep you can also organise sleep testing which helps to assess if there are medical issues related to your lack of sleep or how many times you wake up and then provide a solution to help you get the most out of your bedtime.