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Rest and Recovery

Rest and recovery is just as important as any other topic written on strength and conditioning. More often than not, it is how the athlete schedules and applies these strategies that help them achieve their physical goals. As an athlete, one of your greatest challenges will be getting enough rest so that you are able to make steady gains from your lifting and running programs.

The ability to gain strength, speed, and increase your conditioning level is based upon quality of work performed, not the quantity of work done. An individual's genetic makeup and sound nutrition will determine strength and size potential. The amount of exercise that one is able to recover from training will also vary from athlete to athlete. You may need more time to recover than your training partner who does the same amount of exercises or runs the same distance. Everyone's recovery systems are different!

The same amount of running may be just right to stress the system of a 190 pound athlete but would be too much for the 225 pound athlete. An athlete weighing 225 pounds is performing more work running intervals than the 190 pound athlete is at the same pace or time. This is why you need to follow the prescribed amount of run to rest ratio to ensure you are working within your group's ability. The amount of rest that one needs to recover from a lifting session will vary from athlete to athlete as well. Two of the biggest factors involved in full recovery from exercise are the amount of sleep that you get and the amount and consistency of the food that you are eating. There are ways to improve your recovery. Try the following:

1. Get on a schedule. Make sure you are in bed early enough to get seven to ten hours of sleep per night.

2. Take a nap whenever you can fit them in during the day.

3. Eat properly. Exercise depletes the stored sugars in your muscles. A high carbohydrate diet will allow more glycogen to be stored in your muscles. In addition, research has indicated that within an hour after exercise your body's ability to store glycogen in the muscle is at its greatest. Consequently, you should eat or drink carbohydrates within sixty minutes of training.

Exercise is a form of stress and by itself produces nothing of value. It is the stimulus for producing strength and conditioning results. It is rest that allows improvement to occur. As you gain strength and become more fit, you are capable of performing more work. As you approach your top levels of fitness, you will need less work and more rest to maintain your top level of fitness. Remember, everyone's recovery systems are different!

What Should I Eat After Working Out?
The body needs time as well as key nutrients to recover from each workout session. During periods of hard training, there will be little time to recover between workouts. This is where post exercise nutrition can help repair muscle damage and speed up the recovery process.

The most important nutrient to replace is water. Intense workouts in hot, humid conditions can cause large amounts of fluid loss. Because exercise dulls thirst, athletes cannot rely on this sensation to guide fluid intake. The most accurate way to determine fluid need is to weigh yourself before and after workouts. For every pound of weight lost, drink 16 ounces of water.

In addition to replacing water lost during exercise, electrolytes (sodium and potassium) lost through sweat need to be replenished. A pound of sweat contains approximately 400 to 700 mg. of sodium and 80 to 100 mg. of potassium. Therefore, post exercise rehydration should include sources of both sodium and potassium. Sodium is found in salty foods including spaghetti sauce, pretzels, crackers and soup. Potassium is readily found in fruits and vegetables including potatoes, bananas and orange juice.

Carbohydrate intake is very important after exercise. When athletes eat a high carbohydrate diet, recovery time after exercise is shorter and more complete. The timing of carbohydrate intake is critical. It is recommended to consume between 300 to 500 calories of carbohydrate within forty five minutes after exercise. This amount, preferably more, should be repeated again approximately an hour later.

Protein intake in the post exercise meal will also aid recovery. Protein intake is particularly important in exercise which results in muscle damage, such as strength training, intense endurance exercise, two a day workouts, and contact sports.

Keep fat consumption at a minimum during post workout meal. Fat can slow the absorption of carbohydrates and proteins.

Muscle Glycogen - "Hitting the Wall'
Most of the energy for exercise comes from the breakdown of glycogen. The liver and exercising muscles break down stored glycogen into individual glucose units and release the glucose into the bloodstream to make it available to the cells that need it to make energy. Aerobic workouts and events lasting longer than sixty minutes use up a great deal of an athlete's stored glycogen. After about ninety minutes of continuous, fairly intense aerobic exercise, glycogen depletion can lead to a feeling of extreme fatigue known as "hitting the wall".

To maintain good levels of glycogen, athletes should consume 55 to 60% of their calories from carbohydrates. No more than 10 to 15% of these calories should come from sugar. Good carbohydrate foods, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, have many of the vitamins and minerals that athletes need more of. It is advisable for athletes to refuel your muscles with some form of carbohydrate foods within thirty minutes to one hour after exercise. During this time, glycogen resynthesis occurs rapidly. Refueling soon after exercise will give the body as much time as possible to rebuild glycogen stores for the next training session.

The exercise information presented on this website is intended as an educational resource and is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Consult your physician or health care professional before performing any of the exercises described on this website or any exercise technique or regimen, particularly if you have chronic or recurring medical conditions. Discontinue any exercise that causes you pain or severe discomfort and consult a medical expert. Loyola College makes no warranty of any kind with regard to the information presented and is not responsible for any injuries or damages arising out of the use or misuse of the information.

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