What you do before and after your workout is just as important as what you do during it. Rob Martineau, co-founder of running community and natural sports nutrition brand TRIBE, unveils four top tips to help prepare your body for the gym and ensure it recovers in the best way possible.
1. Move for a Minute
Most of us spend too much time at a desk, on a sofa, in a car. The lack of motion damages our posture, making us more prone to injury, and letting muscles go slack and joints less mobile. Over time we become less flexible and less prepared for each workout. You can help improve your mobility by building simple movements into your day. Try stretching for a minute each hour you’re at your desk. It will help the blood circulate, keep you loose and make the next workout less of a shock, so gradually you’ll start to perform better.
2. Get your Fuel Right
Recovery supplements are a minefield. Avoid reaching for the first protein shake you see – many are filled with low-grade proteins, sugar and artificial flavourings. Eat something within 30 mins of finishing your workout: this is when muscles are most receptive and the recovery fuel will do the most good. As a general rule, take on between 10g – 20g of protein, and 20g – 40g of carbohydrate in this window. A bowl of oats with milk, nuts and fruit, a shake, or two eggs with sweet potato all work. But don’t overdo it: you can absorb no more than 50g of protein at a time, and anything over this puts stress on your body. Remember to get some fats in too, with simple foods like walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and chia. These are all high in polyunsaturated fats, which have anti-inflammatory properties – great for recovery.
3. Put your body under stress
Your body will learn to adapt and recover better by having to work in tougher conditions, so mix things up to keep it learning. Do occasional morning runs or gym sessions on an empty stomach. You’ll tap into to a different fuel system and gradually adapt to improve your fuel economies. Now and again, train twice a day. Done occasionally, shortening the recovery window will help you learn to recover better overall. Introduce some high-intensity elements to your training. Climbing at speed on a bike, interval training for runners, HIIT exercises for gym-goers: all will help to up the tempo and make you stronger in the long run.
Good quality sleep is crucial. Your body repairs as you sleep, and not getting enough can have a significant negative impact on performance. Give yourself the best possible chance of an uninterrupted night. Take a look at what’s blocking your sleep: emails and social media on your phone are often the main culprit, so think about having an offline rule in the bedroom. Make sure you take rest days too – training too hard will increase the chance of injury. Building recovery time into your training cycle is vital to allow you to get fitter.
Rob Martineau co-founder of TRIBE, the natural sports nutrition brand and running community. Tom, Guy and Rob, three ultra-runners, founded the brand in 2015 following a 1000 mile run across Eastern Europe. They use natural ingredients that have fuelled athletes for thousands of years, blended in the right way to provide key nutrients pre and post workout.