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November 11, 2013

How To Enhance Workout Recovery

workout recoveryWhat you do after your workouts is almost as important as what you do doing your workouts. The physiologic adaptations that occur in response to exercise occur when the exercise is over.

In other words, the benefits of exercise really take place during recovery from the exercise. That’s why it’s important to develop strategies to maximize the results of exercise during recovery period. Here are 6 ways to enhance workout recovery.

  • Ample rest between workouts.
  • Vary the intensity of workouts.
  • Hydration.
  • Nutrition.
  • Sleep.
  • Massage/stretching

Rest Between Workouts

The one nearly universal mistake most regular exercisers make is not getting ample rest between workouts. The “if some is good, more is better” attitude takes hold in most exercisers minds. The adaptions to exercise occur during recovery. It’s essential that recovery be long enough for those adaptations to occur. If the recovery period is too short, the body cannot repair muscles stressed from strength training, and the physiologic adaptations that occur from cardiovascular exercise will be blunted.

The more strenuous the workout the more rest is needed before that body part is exercised again. Also, more rest is needed for those new to a regular exercise program.

Vary the Intensity of Workouts

It’s not possible, nor is it desirable to max out on every workout. Every 4 to 6 weeks it is wise to lighten the intensity of your workouts and essentially have an easy week of exercise. This can be done by lifting lighter weights, doing fewer reps and sets, and performing aerobic exercise at lower intensity.

Hydration is Essential for Workout Recovery

The body is mostly water and water loss from workouts from sweating needs to be replaced. Being well hydrated improves circulation enhancing the delivery of oxgyen and nutrients to the body that play a role in repair and recovery. Staying hydrated also facilitates the removal of waste products generated by exercise improving recovery.

Here are a couple good rules of thumb. Consume in ounces each day one half your body weight in pounds. So if you weigh 160 pounds you would drink 80 ounces of water/fluid a day. Or, drink one liter of fluid for evey 1,000 calories you burn.


The importance of post-recovery nutrition is frequently underestimated by many exercisers. Muscles are “hungry” after a workout and the first 30-60 minutes is an ideal time to feed those muscles carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores, but also protein to repair stressed muscles.

To improve your workout recovery in that first hour post exercise shoot for a snack that will provide about 50 grams of carbohydrates and 30 grams of protein. Most experts recommend 1.0 to 1.6 grams of protein a day for every kg of body weight.


Workout recovery is greatly affected by sleep. Most of the day’s growth hormone is produce while we are sleeping. Growth hormone promotes cellular repair and rejuvenation. In addition, nearly all hormones have a circadian rhythm that is maintained when we get ample quality of sleep. Lack of sleep hinders the body’s ability to tolerate physical stresses like exercise. Everybody’s different when it comes to sleep, but most require 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep each night.


Stretching after a workout and massage are good way to relax tight muscle, improve circulation, and remove toxins generated by exercise. This all facilitates workout recovery better enabling the physiologic adaptations to occur.

So, there you have 6 simple ways to enhance workout recovery.



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Dr. Joe Jacko

Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio at Grandview Primary Care. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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