Recovery: The Most Important Part of Your Training Plan

Stretching helps reduce stiffness and injury

Stretching helps reduce stiffness and injury


This is the easy bit! Sounds easy and is easy, but it’s often neglected or under appreciated. Crazy as it may sound, rest is just as important as exercise. Too many people focus on cramming in more/harder training and forget to take the time out, in their day, week or season. Time to find out why…
Rest Is Best

The body gets fitter/stronger/healthier by being exposed to stresses (i.e. training or exercise). Once you’ve done this, the body then needs time to adapt to these stresses and for this there must be a period of recovery. Recovery and rest are also key in preventing injuries.

New to Exercise

If you’re new to training, it’s imperative that you start slowly to allow the body to adapt to the demands of sport. Maybe try exercising on two consecutive days, but have a rest on the third day. If you just keep going, without any rest, your body will soon start to fatigue and you’ll find it difficult to complete (or even start!) any exercise sessions.

If you have just started physical activity or performed a new exercise for the first time, you might be feeling a little sore or stiff but don’t start doubting all those promises of feeling better for exercising just yet. In most cases this is a reaction from your body as it tries to adapt to the new experience. Starting exercise or performing a new movement pattern can result in:

Sleep is a great way to recover from training

Sleep is a great way to recover from trainin

• Severe muscle soreness
• Muscle stiffness
• Decreases in strength
• Decreases in skill levels

The feelings you may be experiencing are referred to as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS for short. Although DOMS is not fully understood, it is thought that the feelings generally materialise sometime after the exercise is performed (hence the ‘Delayed’), this can be as long as 24hours after. Feelings may last from a couple of days or even reports of up to a week or longer. It is suggested that some recovery strategies may help prevent or a least reduce some of the associated feelings. (See below – Recovery Strategies) The more an activity is repeated, you are less likely to feel the effects DOMS, or to a less extent.

More Experienced Athletes

For those who are more experienced exercisers and are maybe training for an event, rest and recovery is also vitally important. You may have heard of a term called ‘Progressive Overload’, the principles of which are as follows:

• Training is designed progressively to overload body systems and fuel stores
• If the training stress is insufficient to overload the body’s capabilities, no adaptations will occur.
• If the workload is too great (progressed too quickly/performed too often without adequate rest), then fatigue follows and subsequent performance will be reduced.
• Work alone is not enough to produce the best results; you need time to adapt to training stress.
• To encourage adaptation to training, it is important to plan recovery activities that reduce residual fatigue.
• The sooner you recover from fatigue, and the fresher you are when you undertake a training session, the better the chance of improving.

Plan your training carefully, include rest days where you let you’re body recover from the stress and begin to adapt to the training. Try thinking ahead to the race/event date, plan different sessions for each week. Maybe do a couple of weeks of more intensive and hard sessions, but follow that with an ‘easy week’ where you’re body can adapt to all the hard training you’ve been doing. This is known as periodisation. Most of my athletes work on the basis of 3 to 4 weeks of increasing training (maybe hours, or intensity toward particular targets) then a week of lower magnitude to allow that adaptation. Every week will have at least 1 rest day, sometimes two depending on the athlete and the intended target. Rest days can include some of the recovery strategies below, though we would tend to encourage these on a day to day basis anyway!

Recovery Strategies

It’s all very well being encouraged to exercise, but if your body isn’t used to doing it, or you’ve started a new sport or even increased the amount of training you’re doing then you need to consider some recovery strategies to help your body to adjust.


Sleep is one of the most important forms of rest and provides time for the body to adapt to the physical and mental demands of training.
– Make sure you get enough sleep (8hours per night is a good guideline)
– Ensure your sleep is good quality, make sure the room is dark, quiet and peaceful.

Passive resting such as reading and listening to music are great ways for the body to relax, both physically and mentally.

Nutrition & Hydration

Ensuring the body is fully nourished and hydrated is vital for good recovery. It is most important to replace fluids after exercise and to replenish energy stores by eating the right foods at the right time. This can include eating higher protein snacks immediately after training or competing to help repair muscles and prevent catabolism (muscle breakdown). You could even look to specific sports nutrition – though this should be supplemental to what you already do rather than instead of.


Cool Down and Stretch

The cool down is a group of exercises performed immediately after training to provide an adjustment between exercise and rest. Its purpose is to increase muscular soreness and bring the cardiovascular system back to rest. Stretching is often combined with the cool down.

Contrast Therapy

Alternating hot and cold showers/baths provides increased muscle flow to the working muscles and speeds the removal of lactic acid. The following guidelines should provide the most benefits:

Complete within 30 minutes of training/exercise
Begin and end with cold exposures
Cold should be between 10 and 16 degrees
Hot should be between 35 and 37 degrees
Repeat the alternations 3 or 4 times
Cold exposure should last between 30 and 60 seconds
Hot exposures should be between 3 and 4 minutes

Cold Baths (Cryotherapy)

If you body is plunged into a bath of icy cold water, the blood vessels constrict and the blood will be drained away from the muscles that have been working (removing lactic acid). Once you get out of the bath, the capillaries dilate and ‘new’ blood flow back into the muscles, bringing with it oxygen which help the functioning of the cells.


The physical benefits of a massage following exercise include:
• Increased blood flow, enhanced oxygen and nutrient delivery to fatigued muscles, increased removal of lactic acid
• Warming and stretching of soft tissues, increasing flexibility, removal of microtrauma, knots and adhesions
In addition to the physical benefits, massage has been reported to help improve mood state and help increase relaxation and reduce feelings of fatigue. See our partners at The Sports Performance Clinic, Energised Performance, or Tri Physiotherapy


Remember we all do sport to enjoy it! It’s not a job, you have friends, family and a job as well as a life to live before training comes in. Make rest and recovery a key part of your training schedule, and you will enjoy the active training far more – hopefully with far increased results! #RecoveryIsKey #TrainSmart


50 Awesome Pre- and Post-Training Snacks

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for some, but for those who manage to squeeze some training time into their routine, pre- and post-workout foods can be just as huge. While everyone’s nutritional requirements are different depending on their goals and activities, these snacks can offer the right balance of carbohydrates, fats, and protein to satisfy hunger, fuel workouts, and aid in recovery. Here are 50 favorite pre- and post-workout snacks, including some go-to recipes from various trusted health and fitness pros.


Pre-Workout Snacks

The body works to build muscle and recover 24 hours a day, not just during that one-hour training session. Luckily, smartly timed snacks can give the body the fuel it needs to gain muscle, burn fat, and recover as best it can. Pre-training usually means grabbing a snack about 30-60 minutes in advance, depending on its size and contents, and how much that stomach’s actually grumbling (or how late you get out of bed)! Check out these 25 options to start things right:


Pre- and Post-Workout Snacks: Yogurt Parfait


1. Perfect yogurt parfait: Feeling fancy, huh? Top ¼ cup nonfat yogurt with ½ cup whole grain cereal and ½ cup fresh strawberries.

2. Protein Creamcicle: Put a twist on the classic kids’ treat by blending 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder, 1 cup orange juice, and 1 cup ice. Trainer and fitness expert @JCDFitness does it!

3. Cha-Cha coconut shake: Infuse 1 scoop chocolate whey protein with 2 teaspoons of extra virgin coconut oil. Girls Gone Strong co-founder @JenComasKeck loves this!

4. Star-buffs shake: Can’t get out the door without your morning coffee? Try blending 1 cup iced coffee (keep the ice) with 1 scoop chocolate whey protein.

5. Dressed up oats: Load up on carbohydrates for a longer workout with ½ cup cooked oats topped with 1 tablespoon dried fruit and 1 tablespoon shaved almonds.


Pre- and Post-Workout Snacks: Fruitsation Shake


6. Fruitsation shake: Blend 1 scoop of your favorite whey protein flavor with ½ cup ice, and 1 cup frozen berries for a sweet energy boost, suggests strength coach @Roglaw.

7. Yoberries a-go-go: For the perfect blend of carbs and protein, try 1 cup non-fat vanilla bean Greek yogurt — which often packs more protein and probiotics than regular plain yogurt — with ½ cup fresh blueberries.

8. PB Apple: For a quick carb fuel-up, slice 1 medium apple and serve with 2 tablespoons all-natural peanut butter.

9. Classic fruit cup: Prefer to keep it sweet but simple? Combine 1 cup berries, melon, banana, and oranges!

10. Dried fruit: For a quick pre-workout fix, try ¼ cup serving of dried berries, apricots, and pineapple.


Pre- and Post-Workout Snacks: Eggs n' toast


11. Eggs n’ toast: Have a heartier appetite? Try 1 or 2 hard-boiled eggs with 1 slice of whole-wheat toast.

12. Fruit leather: Need something light that makes you feel like a kid again? Try 1 single serving of fruit leather. Have a little extra time? Roll some out in the kitchen.

13. Energy in a bar: With so many options in the aisle, try opting for a bar with the most natural ingredients. While protein count is key, also check the sugar content (it shouldn’t rival what’s found in the candy aisle!).

14. Chicken n’ sweets: For a fast bite, grab 2-4 ounces (or a palm-sized amount) of sliced chicken with an equal portion size of sweet potatoes.

15. Oats n’ eggs: Not just for breakfast, try ½ cup cooked oatmeal and 2 whole eggs seasoned with salt and pepper.


Pre- and Post-Workout Snacks: PB & B Toast


16. PB & B toast: Fuel up with 1-2 tablespoons of all-natural peanut butter and half a sliced banana on whole-wheat toast.

17. Turk-cado pasta: Add 2-4 ounces (or a palm-sized amount) of roasted turkey and 3-4 avocado slices to ½ cup cooked whole-wheat pasta for some enviable eats.

18. Wafflewich: Spruce up this classic by combining 1 frozen Kashi waffle with 2 teaspoons of almond butter and 1 teaspoon of jam.

19. Better than a PB Cup: A half-cup cooked oats with 1 teaspoon defatted peanut flour, and a sprinkling of cocoa powder on top.

20. Veggie omelet: Add a little more color to your diet by combining 2 whole eggs shaken with 1 teaspoon of water cooked with 1 cup sautéed seasonal veggies.



21. Fruit & Cottage: Top ½ cup cottage cheese — a low calorie and higher protein option than cream cheese — with ½ cup fresh pineapple, berries, or melon. And voila!

22. Rice con leche: Got a long way to run? Fuel up with ½ cup cooked rice, covered with ½ cup milk, a scatter of raisins, and a dash of cinnamon on top.

23. Sports drink: An small low sugar sports drink (keep it under 10 grams of sugar) will do the trick if you’re in a real time crunch. For a little more fuel, add a scoop of BCAA powder— branch chain amino acids that help maintain muscle and tissue health [1].

24. Hearty salad: Need some greens? Try 1 cup of salad greens with assorted veg, 1 hardboiled egg, and a drizzle of olive oil and vinegar.

25. Energy gel: Got a long way to go? Slurp down a energy gel (like Torq or USN) prior to an endurance session.

Post-Workout Snacks

After a tough training session, post-workout snacks are an important way to restore energy and rebuild muscle, too. Something downed within 20minutes of exercise – then more within two hours, protein-packed shakes and snacks are a great way to rebuild tissue that breaks down during exercise. The first 20minutes are important while the body’s still running warm and can really use the fuel. Here are 25 ways to end that session on a high note:



Pre- and Post-Workout Snacks: Choco-tropical trail mix


26. Choco-tropical trail mix: Go bananas for a blend of ½ a handful of each: macadamia nuts, dried coconut, dark chocolate chips, and banana chips.

27. Protein pancakes: Mix 4 egg whites, ½ cup rolled oats, ½ cup cottage cheese, 1/8 teaspoon baking powder, and ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Cook on preheated griddle (medium low heat) until it bubbles, then flip and cook another 30-60 seconds. Top with fresh berries or sliced banana.

28. Sweet potato pie shake: Combine 1 scoop of cinnamon bun whey protein, ¼ cup diced cooked sweet potato, 1 cup of ice, and 1 cup vanilla almond milk in the blender — a Kellie Davis original.

29. Chunky Monkey shake: Monkey around with 1 medium banana, 1 tablespoon peanut butter, and 1 cup low-fat chocolate milk blended with ice.

30. Double G shake: Aussie strength coach @Rachel_Guy1 recommends an small greens drink (any superfood blend found at most health food stores) with 1 scoop of glutamine.

31. Double Trouble shake: To lengthen the delivery time of nutrients to your muscles, combine ½ scoop of whey protein blended with ½ scoop slower-digesting casein protein, plus a handful of your favorite fresh or frozen fruit.

32. Bananarama: One medium sliced banana with 1 cup low fat milk — it doesn’t get any easier than this!


Pre- and Post-Workout Snacks: Green Monster Smoothie


33. Green Monster smoothie: Blend 4 cups spinach, ½ cup vanilla bean yogurt, 1 cup almond milk, 1 banana, and 1 tablespoon peanut butter with ice — a favorite of Iowa Girl Eats.

34. Protein bar: For a quick, store-bought fix, feed those muscles with a protein bar. Just watch the sugar content. Look for bars with 10-30 grams of protein, less than 10 grams of sugar, and the fewest number of ingredients you can’t pronounce!

35. Beef and squash: Need something hearty? Try a handful of lean roast beef with an equal portion of butternut squash.

36. Tuna crackers: Mix up a batch of light tuna salad for a quick bite. Add two heaping spoonfuls to a handful of whole grain crackers, and chomp away.

37. Bagel with egg whites: Half a medium-sized whole grain bagel with 2 eggs whites makes a great post-workout sandwich.

38. Ants on a raft: The ants go marching… Spread a heap of natural peanut butter over a brown rice cake and top with raisins.

39. Milk and cereal: Any time is a good time for cereal. Add 1 cup of low-fat milk to 1 cup of whole-grain cereal. Nosh loudly.


Pre- and Post-Workout Snacks: Apples and Cheese


40. Apples and cheese: Tease your taste buds with 1 medium sliced apple and 1 stick of low-fat string cheese.

41. Chocolate milk: One to two cups of low-fat chocolate milk seals the deal with extra carbs and protein.

42. Black bean omelet: Four eggs whites, 1 ounce low-fat cheese, and ¼ cup canned black beans — then spice it up with a savory salsa, if you dare.

43. Cottage cheese crunch: One cup fat-free cottage cheese, 1 teaspoon honey, ½ cup whole-grain cereal, and a dash of cinnamon does a body good.

44. Egg muffinwich: Ditch the fast-food and opt for 1 whole egg, fresh spinach, 1 slice cheese, and 1 slice Canadian bacon served on an English muffin.

45. BCAA n’ cakes: When in doubt, just add cakes! Pair up two scoops of BCAA powder mixed in ice water with two rice cakes.


Pre- and Post-Workout Snacks: AB & J Rice Cakes


46. AB & J Rice Cakes: Almond butter takes the cake. For this healthier twist on the classic PB & J, sandwich 1 tablespoon of almond butter and 1 teaspoon of strawberry jam between two rice cakes.

47. Recovery in a bottle: When time is of the essence, grab a store-bought recovery drink to sip on after training. Just check the label — sports recovery drinks will provide plenty of carbs refuel, or opt for aminos to really rebuild.

48. Pita and hummus: One 7-inch pita with two spoonfuls of hummus adds a little pep back to your step with quick digesting carbs.

49. Egg scramble: Veg out after a hard training session with 2-3 whole eggs scrambled with a handful of chopped onion, spinach, and bell peppers.

50. Chicken hash: After your workout grab 1 cup cooked diced chicken, ½ cup butternut squash and apples, roasted in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Make a big batch and store it in the fridge!

Food should be fun and enjoyable – and hopefully not boring! Thats certainly my view anyway. This comes from a variety of different sources but hopefully will give you some ideas and thoughts about what you can do to get the right food in you quickly.