Recovery – How to Do It Right

Well what a shitty day that was!!

After five hours of sleep, I woke up looking and feeling like I had been partying for a week. Spent an hour and a half sitting in traffic getting to work – late again – and to top off the day from hell I get pinned under a measly 110kg box squat!!! One minute I’m standing, the next, I’m in a crumpled heap, hunched over like Gollum on a rock…………..


After two weeks off with the world worst man-flu ever, a shit load of antibiotics and sleepless nights I am back at work and training 4 days a week with an “I got this” attitude.

However, despite the ‘positive mental attitude’, my body shouted out loud and clear today “You ain’t got nothing mate!” and left me in a heap.

I normally target my posts at the more “mature” athlete, but, this one relates to everyone.

No matter how fit you are, how mentally positive you feel, young/old, male/female, you can only push yourself so far before your body says “enough already!!”

Sometimes taking a step back isn’t admitting you’re weak.

So what happens when you train?

Any of you out there who trains regularly should know this, right? But for those that don’t….

Every time you exercise not only do you expend more energy than normal, you also place greater resistance on the muscle than you would normally encounter in everyday activities which causes microscopic tears in the muscle tissue.

The more intense the exercise, the more energy you use and the more damage you cause, and, it is the repairing of this damage that causes the muscle to grow and strengthen.

After you have spent your hour or so squatting, benching, deadlifting or whatever, cells outside the muscle fibres make their way to the damaged area. These cells grow and fuse to the damaged muscle fibres, creating new muscle protein strands and in the process add strength and size to the muscle so that the next time you put it under pressure the better able it is to cope.

1) Have a break (forget the KitKat !)……….

As wonderful as your body’s capacity is to deal with all this stress and repair itself, it needs time to do it. You wouldn’t lay a foundation, then build the wall before the foundation is set – it wouldn’t cope with the stress, so you give it time.

Your body is exactly the same. Keep putting it under pressure and it’s going to fall apart. You either burn out our cause yourself an injury.

Ideally, as a beginner performing a full body workout, you should take one to two days between your sessions. A more advanced lifter can split opposing muscle groups on two consecutive days but may need two days before working the same muscles again.

2) Eat!

You don’t just fill your car with petrol once and it’s off to infinity and beyond. You fill it to get you from  A to B and then you fill it again.

You are no different. You’ve spent an hour working out, used up a lot of your energy stores,  sweated out up to two litres of fluid and now its time to refuel.

Depending on your goals, everyone will have a different eating plan whether it is for fat loss or muscle gain but to replenish glycogen stores (the energy stored in muscle) get some carbs into you.  That doesn’t mean heading to the nearest McDonalds. A good trainer will have already given you a list of foods suitable for your goal.

Protein is also essential to the repair of muscle tissue and the easiest way to get this into you is a shake immediately after training – 20-30g.

Try natural yoghurt, cottage cheese, fruit (preferably berries), peanut/almond butter, turkey slices or tuna after your workout.

3) Rehydrate

As I said you can lose up to two litres of fluids during a session depending on the intensity. Make sure that you keep hydrated during your workout and continue doing so after.

4) Sleep!!!

For some reason, this is something everyone, well most of us, overlook. I know I do on occasion.

I know it is not easy – you finish work, train, get home and prepare a meal, do whatever mundane housework that needs doing, spend time with the family and before you know it it’s 11 pm. Your brain is still active and it could be 12 am before you fall asleep, and then, like groundhog day you’re up and off again.

There is no point in putting all that money and effort into your training if your body is too tired to push yourself during your session or recover afterwards.


Don’t compromise all the hard work you put into your session – work hard, refuel, rehydrate and rest.

Listen to what your body is telling you and if you are unsure talk to a professional.


Ronan Tutty CPT


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