Although team training workouts are very important, the success or downfall of an athlete has a lot to do with what the athlete does between workouts. Fitness does not increase during workouts, it increases between workouts during periods of rest as the body recovers and adapts to the stresses of training.
With proper rest and recovery, an athlete’s body is able to adapt and make the physiological and performance improvements that the training is designed to bring about. Therefore, an athlete’s ability to recover between workouts plays a large role in how hard the strength coach can continue to push the athlete during workouts over time.
Athletes are encouraged to do everything they can within their power to ensure that the recovery process is maximized. This includes:
- Getting a solid 7-8 hours of sleep every night
- Participating in light activity between workouts, which increases circulation and promotes nutrient delivery and metabolic waste removal
- Consuming an adequate amount of nutrients at the right times
Athletes are encouraged to take their eating and drinking habits as seriously as they take their training. Proper nutrition not only enhances overall health, but it can also have a major impact on recovery and regeneration after intense training.
During workouts, athletes deplete their bodies of fluids and electrolytes, break down their muscle tissues and use up their energy stores. Nutrition is a key component in the recovery process because it provides the raw materials with which an athlete’s body can make the physiological adaptations to training. By consuming the right nutrients at the right times, recovery can be brought about more quickly and thoroughly.
Following our workouts, we encourage our athletes to do a couple things nutritionally to speed up the recovery process:
- Firstly, it is important to consume fluids and electrolytes (ie. Gatorade) in order to replace what is lost through sweating. If an athlete does not properly re-hydrate before the next workout, he/she is putting themselves at risk for muscle cramps, overheating or other problems when they train again.
- Secondly, it is important to consume protein after workouts so that muscles can be fully repaired. Weight training damages and disrupts muscle tissue. By consuming an adequate amount of quality protein after workouts, new muscle proteins can be built and the muscle can repair, adapt and become stronger.
- Thirdly, energy stores must be replenished. Carbohydrates are the muscles’ main fuel source during moderate-to-high intensity exercise. Therefore, consuming an appropriate amount of carbohydrates is critical in refueling hard-working muscles.
- Finally, we advise our athletes to eat more often, consuming
5-6 meals per day versus only 2 or 3. By eating smaller meals more
often, two main benefits can be realized:
- Fat loss is enhanced because blood sugar levels are kept level and moderate, metabolism is boosted and satiety level is constant.
- More muscle is preserved or gained because the body is getting a constant supply of energy and never has to break down muscle proteins for energy, as well as having a constant supply of proteins for muscles to repair themselves.
- Drink plenty of fluid - You must drink at least a gallon of fluid a day, preferably water. If you wait until you're thirsty to drink, it's too late.
- Eat smaller meals more frequently.
- Consume a post workout, high carbohydrate shake. It can be a fruit smoothie, a commercial carbohydrate powder, or even a sports drink like Gatorade, it is vital that this nutrition be added to your daily plan.
- Balance each meal. The eyeball method of determining balance is generally pretty effective. If you have a fist sized portion of protein, eat two fists of good carbohydrates. If you must eat poor carbohydrates simply eat one fist size portion.
- Eat plenty of lean meat, low-fat dairy, fruits, and vegetables.
- Avoid if possible breads (except pumpernickel and whole rye), rice, pasta, and cereal.
- Avoid junk food at all costs.
Fluids to avoid that actually cause dehydration:
Soda with Caffeine