(3 min read)
Not getting the gains fast enough?
When you experience fatigue, illness or injuries after the performance, we’re often taught that you’ve overtrained and you should cut back on either the quantity or intensity of your exercise.
However, what often goes unrecognised is that it could be related to the fact you are not recovering instead. The two can often get confused, and sometimes, under-recovery is often misdiagnosed as overtraining.
In this article, we’ll explain the difference between the two so you can recognise the effects of both and how to ensure you can maximise your performance through a well-structured, pre and post-workout recovery method.
What is Overtraining
Overtraining is a real ‘buzzword’ used in the fitness industry. It typically occurs when an athlete trains too much and too often, consistently putting increased loads of training too close together. If you don’t allow enough time between workouts, you begin to put too much stress on your body, and you’re likely to experience persistent muscle soreness or joint pain, lack of gains, and lowered immunity.
What is Under-Recovery
In contrast, under-recovery occurs when you haven’t given your body and in particular your muscles enough time to recover or you leave the recovery methods to chance instead of giving it the ingredients it needs to rebuild and recover. Although critical, simply resting your body will not suffice, helping your muscles repair and re-grow through nutrition and performance supplements will enhance your energy and endurance for your next workout.
As the symptoms and results are very similar, most of the time, if you think you are overtrained, you are actually under-recovered. It means that you haven’t taken the right approach in between sessions. Not to worry! So here are some effective ways you can avoid under-recovery.
Understand your body
One of the most important things as an athlete is to understand your body - how it reacts to different levels of intensity, training loads and types of exercises. If you know what your body needs before and after workouts, you’ll be able to plan your training and lifestyle to ensure you’re getting the most out of your sessions.
Just because you’re young and fit, it doesn’t mean your body will naturally recover and repair by itself. Although you might experience less soreness and fatigue than someone older or less fit, you still need to ensure you’re providing your body with the right resources for recovery such as rest and nutrition.
Get the right amount of rest
We know that allowing 12 to 24 hours between high-intensity workouts is crucial, but you also need to focus on the quantity and quality of your sleep. If you feel lethargic and tired by the time your next session comes around, you will definitely not be approaching your workout in the best shape and sleep is often key. Around 8-10 hours is required to ensure you can go again the next day.
It doesn’t matter how eager you are to return to exercise, if you workout while your body is still under duress, you will only do more damage than good. You’ll set yourself back further instead of achieving growth. Plan out your week in advance so you know which days are for training and which are for rest. From there, break it down even further to outline which muscle groups or types of training will take place on what days so you can also allow adequate recovery.
Proper nutrition and hydration
What you consume in between workouts is just as important to how much rest you get. Firstly, make sure you drink enough water to cover for the fluids that you’ve lost during exercise. Investing in a good - and large - water bottle is honestly underrated.
The critical thing about nutrition is ensuring you’re eating the right foods and taking the correct supplements based on your fitness goals. For example, if you’re looking to achieve muscle growth, then you need to be consuming whey protein, plant protein or mass gainers. If you’re rushing to work or don’t have time post-workout, ready to drink shakes are perfect. Simply increasing your protein intake or using a better-quality protein may be enough to see the results you’re looking for.
On the other hand, if weight management is important and you’re watching the scales closely, you could look for supplements such as appetite suppressants and fat burners. That’s not to say you should stop eating altogether to achieve results, it’s about ensuring you have a balanced diet.
No matter what your fitness goals, make sure you eat high-quality foods that focus on the right vitamins and minerals. The biggest mistake is to just consider the number of calories, but it’s more important to understand the way your body absorbs and uses the food you eat depending on the micronutrient makeup. If you want to train to your optimum level, you must manage your recovery actively and thoroughly. Combining these methods will ensure your body gets the best possible recovery so you can get the most out of your performances. A focus on rest, recovery, and nutrition combined with effective training will be a recipe for success.