You live a healthy active lifestyle and you most definitely put fitness first. You watch what you eat, you train regularly and you make sure that you get the maximum benefits out of each one of your workouts.
But still, the fact remains that some training sessions are better than others. Some days you run to the gym feeling strong, purposeful and ready for a great workout. The stretching comes easy, you power through the cardio and your strength and resistance training goes like a dream. You finish your workout feeling pumped and energised and you carry that euphoric mood back to the office with you.
And then there’s the other days. The days when you walk to the gym like an extra from a zombie movie. You can’t run or row or crosstrain as fast, the weights seem heavier than usual and even the music can’t take your mind off just how painful the stretching is. You finish your workout early and you limp back to the office feeling exhausted and dissatisfied.
We’ve all had days like these, and the good news is that there are steps we can take to minimise them, by ensuring we are training at an optimal level, and recovering in preparation for the next session.
Oxidative stress, immune dysfunction and inflammation are commonly triggered by lifestyle factors including stress, anxiety, lack of sleep, poor eating habits and environmental toxins. When this happens, our body finds it’s more difficult to function at it’s optimum level. That’s why you need to ensure you live a healthy and balanced lifestyle routine. As overall fitness is so much more than going to the gym, it is important to remember that an holistic lifestyle choice that incorporates exercise with diet, nutrition, a work/life balance and a positive mental attitude, puts you in good shape to be better prepared to train and recover after your workouts.
The first, and arguably the most important step to enhanced training and performance is a proper night’s sleep. Ryan Pinto, Head of Nutrition for the South Sydney Rabbitohs and New South Wales Waratahs, recommends you “consistently sleep for 7-9 hours each night”, as it can quite literally set you up for the day ahead. You leap out of bed feeling strong, clear-headed and ready.
Food is the energy that allows you to train and for your body to recover. What you put in is quite simply what you get out. And if you are putting in poor quality fuel, or not putting in enough fuel, then your performance and recovery is going to be significantly impaired.
Ryan recommends you are consuming 0.3g/kg body weight of protein at each meal, 2-3 times a day and it’s distributed evenly across the day. A medium G.I. form of carbohydrate is also recommended before a session, so it digests before your train. This can come in the form of a piece of fruit, wholemeal crackers with cream cheese and smoked salmon or yoghurt with berries.
After a workout, your muscles may be stiff and sore. But the worst thing you can do is to do nothing. Ryan recommends you get into a routine of “active recovery after each session. Gentle movement 12 hours after exercise, even on a rest day, such as walking, stretching or going for a swim will promote circulation and the removal of waste products from muscles. Using supplements designed to alleviate muscle soreness such as magnesium, can also help individuals to reduce stiffness and inflammation”.
Naturopath, Teneille Newton, explains that proper hydration is the key to your muscles working at their optimal levels. “Our bodies are 50-80 % water (depending on age and lean body mass), which makes staying properly hydrated vital to our health. Did you know as little as 2 % dehydration (of body weight) can impair your physiological function and performance. So make sure that you hydrate yourself at regular intervals throughout your workout in order to maximise your performance.”
As mentioned earlier, full body fitness is the result of a holistic approach that incorporates all the elements needed for both body and mind. You should educate yourself about your body’s nutritional need, and work with your healthcare practitioner on a holistic health program for optimal wellbeing. They will be able to identify the most suitable supplement for your individual needs.