Exercise Recovery – The Key to Exercise Enjoyment and Performance

After 15 years of National and International powerlifting competitions with training 3 to 4 days a week, 2 to 3 hours a day, 50 weeks of the year, I am convinced recovery is the key to enjoyment, performance and exercise longevity!

Recovery includes, sleep, rest, eating, hydration and may also include the use of ice, heat, therapeutic massage and/or active release.

In general, research shows that recovery after exercise is essential to muscle and tissue repair and strength building. This is even more critical after a heavy weight training session. A muscle needs anywhere from 24 to 48 hours to repair and rebuild, and working it again too soon simply leads to tissue breakdown instead of building. For weight training routines, never work the same muscles groups two days in a row.

The following are a few of my personal suggestions on recovery after training or working out:

  1. Cool down – don’t just stop abruptly
  2. Stretch after cool down – even for just a few minutes
  3. Replace fluids water, Gatorade, protein drinks, milk (avoid alcohol)
  4. Eat within 30 to 60 minutes after your exercise – ensure you eat protein and complex carbohydrates to replace much needed nutrients – eating within 30 to 60 minutes speeds recovery by 50%
  5. Rest the specific muscle group 24 to 48 hours
  6. Make ice your best friend – it reduces minor muscle pain and helps get blood in those muscles
  7. Use heat when necessary
  8. Avoid over training – there are no medals for over training only injury and rehab
  9. Use Massage
  10. Use Active Release
  11. If pain persists, back off and visit your – working through the wrong kind of pain can result in serious injury and long rehabs
  12. Be smart and listen to your body – it’s the only one you have

Deep tissue or sports therapeutic massage once a week and active release as needed. Active release is an extreme version of deep tissue or sports massage. Active release targets specific muscle problems, identifies the reason for pain and works that specific area. It’s intense and can be painful, but works wonders.

In closing, remember it’s YOUR exercise regime. You decide when, where and how long. You also decide how to recover. It’s one thing to work through minor exercise fatigue, it’s another thing to avoid injury.

Remember, if it was easy everyone would do it and it is called a WORK out. So it may hurt from time to time. Be smart and take time to recover properly and you will be at your passion until you’re 90!

[About the author: Walter is an American Powerlifter and Guinness World Record holder and challenger living in Canada. For more information visit or connect with him on Twitter or Facebook]

Image: Håkan Dahlström

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