As a competitive weightlifter, I know how important recovery is for your body. Pushing yourself day in and day out through strenuous exercise will put a strain on your central nervous system and end up doing more harm than good if you’re not recovering properly.
Recovery is important because it’s an essential factor in muscle tissue building and repair. Biologically speaking, a muscle needs around 24 to 48 hours to fully repair and build itself. If you don’t give yourself enough recovery time, it could lead to more tissue breakdown instead of rebuilding. 
1. Consume Enough Protein
Most individuals simply aren’t getting enough protein in their diet. Consuming enough protein from different sources such as whey protein, eggs, chicken, turkey, meat, fatty fish, etc. is one of the most important ways to help repair and rebuild your muscles. If you’re vegan, it can be especially tough to get enough protein in, but we’ve got you covered. Check out our article on protein on a vegan ketogenic diet.
Immediately after a workout is a great time to get that protein in. There is an abundant amount of research out there showing that a protein shake directly post-workout is key for triggering muscle repair and rebuilding. In fact, the world of post-workout supplements has grown substantially in the past few years as more and more individuals realize just how important it is to their recovery. 
Everyone knows they should be drinking enough water, but not everyone knows why. Water plays an essential role in repairing muscles, digestive health and reduced fatigue to name a few.
Being dehydrated can have a negative impact on recovery along with your mental and physical performance. 
When talking about hydration, it’s important to discuss the significance of electrolytes. Electrolytes (such as sodium, magnesium, potassium, calcium and zinc) are chemicals in the body that help you run at optimal levels. Lacking electrolytes in your diet can cause your muscles to cramp.
As a weightlifter, I can assure you first-hand that muscle cramps are no fun.
3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep
If you think you’re getting enough sleep, think again. In an ideal world, you want to be getting a minimum of eight hours of sleep.
If you take a look at the schedule of some of the most elite athletes in the world, you’ll notice they have a few things in common: clean diet, rigorous exercise and lots of sleep. But what happens during sleep? Well, your body is technically repairing and resetting itself.
When it comes to athletic performance, sleep has been shown to play a part in reaction times, memory, motor function, glucose metabolism, focus, stress regulation, learning, muscle glycogen, injury reduction and more.
4. Foam Roll and Massage
Foam rolling is much more than rolling on a piece of hard plastic aimlessly. In fact, the act of foam rolling mimics the actions of a sports massage, rolling over the muscles and breaking up muscle tissue as well as facia. Foam rolling post-workout is thought to help alleviate muscle soreness and fatigue and improve muscular performance. 
5. Cold Therapy
While ice baths and saunas have been a staple among elite athlete’s training routines since the start, more of the general population has begun utilizing these recovery modalities. You can spot ice baths in every professional training facility and for good reason, too. Ice baths help reduce inflammation and improve recovery.
You see, when you sit in very cold water, your blood vessels constrict. When you get out, they open back up. As far as the research goes, there are studies that prove icebaths to be very beneficial, while other studies claim ice baths offer no additional value. 
6. Heat Therapy
Another key component in optimal recovery includes the use of a sauna after a workout session. Using the sauna has been though to help improve cardiovascular performance, flush toxins, clean the skin, possibly lower risk of neurological diseases and more. 
Most exercise routines you see today involve some sort of stretching. Whether its pre or post-workout, even the average gym-goer knows it’s important to stretch. But why? Well, stretching helps with a number of factors including recovery. Stretching helps increase blood flow to your muscles, improve your posture, increase your range of motion, increase your flexibility and increase your physical performance in general.   
8. Avoid Overtraining
One of the most overlooked tips when it comes to adequate recovery is simple: don’t overtrain! This means training intensely for days without a day or two to recover, not eating enough, not sleeping enough or not drinking enough water. If you’re training is rigorous and intense, your recovery should be matching that same effort.
For example, I train the Olympic lifts (snatch and clean and jerk) six days a week. If I don’t get enough sleep or if I don’t feel like I’ve eaten enough to adequately recover, I will reduce my training to five days a week.
I’ve learned how to listen to my body and know enough is enough. If I decide to push through, I begin to feel overly fatigued, I might start gaining weight and I could have a greater chance of injury.
Whatever way you’re getting your fitness in, make sure you’re recovering just as well so you can do more of what you love.
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Steph Lodge is a wellness writer with a passion for health, nutrition and fitness. Steph is a competitive weightlifter and lover of the outdoors. She’s taught a number of meal prep and nutrition courses at different events around the country. She is also the founder of The Athlete’s Kitchen, a site dedicated to all things health and wellness.