Your Guide to Optimal Recovery

June 1, 2010 | Featured in the Summer 2010 Issue

Must See Nutrition Videos

Why you need to recover

If this summer marks your 2010 debut in the weight room, know what’s in store for Day 2: not being able to lift your arms over your head and bending over to tie your shoes.

You feel beat up because exercise dramatically alters the structure and function of muscle cells, says Dr. Scott Connelly, an expert on the physiology of nutrition and muscle metabolism.

“Multiple or consecutive training days causes what’s referred to as low-frequency fatigue, resulting in a diminished capacity for the muscles to produce maximum force contractions,” Connelly says. “What high school athletes are confronting are multiple days of practice that are fatiguing exercise sessions, which sets them up for less than-optimal muscle performance on the days when they need it the most.”

You may think and feel like you’re improving your physical performance by hitting the weights day after day, but your body never has time to recover and rebuild itself.

Recovery Guide

Mike Reinhart created the PAC Training System to bring modern, advanced training methods to athletes. The system’s basic premise is that development occurs in a series of cycles. And according to Reinhart, recovery is of top importance.

Here, he outlines three phases of recovery and how to best use this precious time.

Rapid Phase:
The First 30 Minutes

“If you’ve been exercising intensely, the first thing you need to do is get your heart rate down,” Reinhart says. Perform active recovery exercises such as skips, shuffles and walking toe touches. Most important, Reinhart says, is to re-hydrate. Start pumping water and electrolytes back into your system.

Intermediate Phase:
One- to Two-Hour Window

Get lean protein [e.g., a six- to-eight-ounce chicken or turkey breast] and high-glycemic carbohydrates [e.g., fruit, fruit juice or white bread] into your system. High glycemic carbs break down quickly and raise your blood sugar level, which the body needs to replenish your muscles.

“If you’ve missed that two-hour window, you’ve blown the advantage of getting your body back to normal,” Reinhart says. “It will take you longer to replace the energy stores in the form of glycogen and to get amino acids [into your] tissues for rebuilding [muscles].”

Long-Term Phase:
Eight Hours and Beyond

The big-picture piece of recovery. First, engage in healthy nutritional habits like eating five to six small meals a day, constantly hydrating, and consuming recovery-inducing foods such as almonds, bananas and energy bars.

The phase also includes rest, because “the body needs eight or nine hours of sleep a night for basic maintenance and to rebuild muscle tissue,” according to Reinhart. “You [also] need sleep for that burst of human growth hormone, which helps build muscle tissue.”

Zac Clark
- Zac Clark is STACK Media's Custom Content Manager. Prior to joining STACK in September 2008, he served as an editorial assistant for USA Hockey Magazine...
Zac Clark
- Zac Clark is STACK Media's Custom Content Manager. Prior to joining STACK in September 2008, he served as an editorial assistant for USA Hockey Magazine...
Must See
Brandon Jennings: "Always Improve"
Views: 4,159,975
Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds
Views: 37,127,207
RGIII Talks About His Legacy
Views: 25,475,477

Featured Videos

A Day in the Life of NBA D-League Star Seth Curry Views: 69,070
Kevin Love's Cone Hop Basketball Shooting Drill Views: 9,456
Eastbay Path to the Pros Episode 2: Laying the Groundwork Views: 133,452
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Perfect Dwyane Wade's Signature Euro Step
Views: 1,308,880
What Ryan Hall Eats for Breakfast
Views: 795,300
STACK Fitness Weekly: How To Do a Muscle-Up
Views: 778,676
Greg Nixon's Hill Training Program
Views: 705,782
Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift
Views: 1,561,942

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

What You Need to Know about Fats

What Are Fats: What You Need to Know This article is the second installment of our 3 part series on the different macronutrients. Part 1 was a detailed...

Performance-Boosting Snacks with a Satisfying Crunch

What You Need to Know About Protein

How 100 Pro Athletes Like Their Eggs

Macronutrients, Part I: Carbohydrates

The Nutrition That Powers Joe Thomas's Iron-Man Streak

Study Ranks Paleo As Second-Worst Diet

Fuel Up for Soccer Like the U.S. Women's National Team

Why Your Gut Might Be the Most Important Part of Your Body

Game-Day Nutrition for Soccer Players

How Can Zero-Calorie Diet Soda Be Bad for You?

5 Changes Fast-Food Restaurants Are Making to Become Healthier

Why Chicken Soup Strengthens Your Immune System

Are Chokeberries the Next Super Food for Athletes?

The Soccer Tournament Nutrition Checklist

Feed for Speed: 5 Foods and Supplements That Make You Faster

Post-Holiday Chocolate Health Benefits

4 Endomorph Diet Strategies to Accelerate Fat Loss

How and Why to Eat Mindfully

How to Turn Nutrition Goals Into Actions

Eat Like a Champion, Part 3: Post-Workout Nutrition

Why Every Athlete Should Drink Tea

Surprising Muscle-Building Snacks

Types of Yogurt: What's New and What's Best for Athletes

Avoid Pigging Out: How to Conquer Food Cravings

Fuel Your Performance with Peas

Halftime Snacks for Quick Refueling

Why Are People Drinking Charcoal?

How to Build a Meal Plan to Suit Your Body Type

Big Breakfast, Small Breakfast, No Breakfast: Which Is Best?

Eat Like a Champion, Part 2: How to Lose Fat Safely

Cheerios With Quinoa: Coming Soon to a Grocery Store Near You

12 Grab-and-Go High Protein Snacks

Is It Okay to Eat the Same Thing Every Day?

Are 'Healthy Chips' Really Healthy? 5 Popular Options Examined

3 Tips to Eat Healthy on a Budget

Russell Wilson Wants You to 'Eat the Ball'

Simple Nutrition Tips for Faster Workout Gains

8 Recovery Foods Recommended by Sport Dietitians

Bone Broth Breakdown: Should You Eat This 'Super' Soup'?

The Right Way to Gain Weight During the Off-Season