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Recovery After Exercise

"The goal is certainly not to avoid stress - stress is a part of life. It is a natural by-product of all our activities...But in order to express yourself fully, you must first find your optimum stress level and then use your adaptation energy at a rate and in a direction adjusted to the innate structure of your mind and body. It is not easy...It takes much practice and almost constant self-analysis." (Selye, 1956)

" must train very hard to make progress: however, you must be able to recover from your workouts." Jim Schmitz U.S. Olympic Weightlifting Coach 1980, 1988, 1992


Overreaching is a term used to describe temporary overtraining, which can require 2 days to 2 weeks of recovery time and true overtraining, which can require weeks to months of recovery time. "Overreaching occurs when full recovery is not achieved for an extended time period and fatigue builds up. This usually occurs slowly over the course of a month or two, but it can happen much quicker in the face of a dramatic increase in training volume and/ or intensity. Symptoms associated with overreaching are similar to fatigue, only more severe. Those of you who have overreached may also notice an increased resting heart rate, premature fatigue during training, decrease in work capacity, increased heart rate during submax loads and an increased thirst, especially at night."

"If you do overreach and do not allow for a period or two of lower intensity levels the fatigue will continue to accumulate and your body will force you to take a rest by becoming injured or overtrained. True overtraining takes several months to set in but once it does you will have to dramatically decrease your workload anywhere from several weeks to several months in order to fully restore all bodily systems. During this period it is very difficult to even maintain current fitness levels, much less improve them, and a decrease is usually expected. This is why true overtraining is to be avoided at all costs."

Warning Signs of Overtraining



From Burke, Edmund. Optimal Muscle Recovery (Garden City Park, NY: Avery Publishing Group, 1999).


"If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health."
Hippocrates (460-370BC)

7 Day Diet Diary


If you workout longer than 90 minutes you need more than just water. You need to replenish your electrolytes, carbohydrates (CHO), and protein. You must also remember to drink water throughout the remainder of the day because you cannot fully rehydrate by just gulping down water immediately after the workout. Your urine should be the color of Chardonnay wine (pale yellow)- between #1 and #3 on the chart below. If it is darker you are probably still dehydrated.

Pre-workout Nutrition

Some studies recommend that endurance athletes choose low glycemic carbohydrate (CHO) foods for their pre-event or pre-training meals. Unfortunately, other investigations, have not shown a clear benefit resulting from eating low GI carbohydrate foods before exercise. The majority of studies show that even if low GI pre-exercise meals produce better metabolic conditions during exercise compared with high GI meals, the differences are small and short lived. The bottom line is that athletes probably perform the same by just making sure to have CHO as a pre-event or pre-training meal.

Athletes should consume 50 to 100 ounces of water above and beyond their normal intake the day before the event. On the day of competition athletes should consume 20 to 32 ounces of cool water 2 hours prior to the event. Eliminate bladder 15 minutes prior to the event. Drink 6 to 8 ounces of water five minutes before the event.

During Workout Nutrition

In endurance exercise events (greater than 90 minutes) the most common and effective strategy used by athletes to promote fuel availability is to consume carbohydrate-rich drinks or foods during the event. A beverage with 30-80g of CHO should be consumed every hour. E.g.. a 4%-8% beverage means that it has 4g-8g CHO per 100ml, so one liter per hour is recommended. For all day events, i.e.. track and field, a moderate amount of sodium in the drink is necessary.

Post-Workout Nutrition Recovery: Three phases

The Rapid Phase: first 30 minutes after training
The Intermediate Phase: 90 minutes to 2 hours
The Longer Phase: 2 - 20 hours


Rehydration requires a special fluid intake plan since thirst and voluntary intake will not provide for full restoration of sweat losses in the acute phase (zero to six hours after workout) of recovery. Weigh yourself before and after exercise. A loss of one kilogram equals a fluid deficit of one litre. Remember that you will continue to lose fluid during recovery via urine losses and ongoing sweating, and that these losses must also be replaced. Typically you will need to consume about 1.5 times the volume of your post-exercise fluid deficit over the subsequent two to four hours to fully restore fluid balance. Cool drinks (eg 10-15°C) are preferred in most situations.

Replacing sodium losses helps maximise the retention of ingested fluids by minimising urine losses. Options include sports drinks, commercial oral rehydration solutions, salty foods, or salt added to post-exercise meals. This is particularly important when fluid deficits are greater than 2-3% of body weight or 2 litres. A high-sodium beverage such as an oral rehydration solution (50-90 mmol/L or 2-5 g of salt per litre), or salt added to post-exercise meals, may be the best way to guarantee efficient and rapid rehydration after significant fluid loss. Caffeine-containing fluids (eg cola drinks) and alcohol (avoid for 24-36 hours after hard workouts) are not ideal rehydration beverages since they may increase urine losses. However, recent studies have found "little evidence to support the idea that caffeinated drinks have an adverse effect on hydration during post-exercise recovery." (Peak Performance, Issue 212, p. 9)

Where possible, avoid post-exercise activities that exacerbate sweat losses-for example, long exposure to hot spas, saunas or the sun.


0.6g/kg lean body mass. For example, if the athlete is 90kg at 10% body fat, then the athlete should consume 50g protein after the workout in a liquid form. Whey protein is probably the best for post workout absorption.

As per Charles Poliquin


Rapid resynthesis of muscle glycogen stores is aided by the immediate intake of CHO. The amount is based on training volume. A general rule is about 2g/kg bodyweight. A more specific program is:

12-72 reps per workout: 0.6 g/Kg/LBM (Lean Body Mass)
73-200 reps per workout: 0.8 g/kg/LBM
200-360 reps per workout: 1.0 g/kg/LBM
360-450 reps per workout: 1.2 g/kg/LBM

Charles Poliquin says, "Regarding the source of carbohydrates post-workout, I have experimented with various sources, I like using fruit juices with a high glycemic index (i.e. pineapple, grape) to provide 30-40% of the carbs, the rest of the carbs coming from carb powders such as Ultra Fuel from Twinlab."

"For variety sake, I will use different types of juice like a berry blend. You can also any type of mushy fruit like bananas or peaches. For seriously underweight athletes, I may use pineapple and/or corn flakes to drive the glycemic index upwards. Instead of using maltodextrin, you can also use desiccated honey."

Above per Charles Poliquin

Properly balanced meals throughout the remainder of the day are essential.


  1. Hydration: Subtract your post-game weight from your pre-game weight and convert to grams (lbs x 2.2=kg kgx1000=grams). The number of grams of weight lost equals the number of ml of fluid you must drink to make up the weight. To convert ml to ounces: ml/30=ounces. If you drank any fluid during the game, you must know that amount and add it to the total.
  2. Nutrients:
    1. Glutamine 5 grams
      "Glutamine intake: Recent scientific research has demonstrated that consuming glutamine following exercise can accelerate muscle glycogen resynthesis and glutamine levels, which are critical in the prevention of overtraining, and the creation of an anabolic environment. I recommend ingesting 0.33 g/kg of glutamine, so for a 90 kg man that would be 30 grams. If someone has a higher percentage bodyfat, I up the glutamine and reduce the carbs." (Charles Poliquin)
      1. Vitamin C 1000mg
      2. Vitamin B Complex 50mg
      3. Arginine 3 grams
      4. Calcium 1000mg
      5. Magnesium 500mg
      6. Bromelain 2000gdu
      7. Whey Protein 15-20 grams
      8. Carbohydrate (maltodextrin) 60 - 80 grams
      9. Fish Oils
      10. Branched Chain Amino Acids
  3. Use a foam roller: FOAM ROLLER GUIDE
  4. Perform slow, breathing stretching
  5. Ice bath (for lower extremities) - 10 minutes
    Ice any painful areas with ice massage for 5 minutes
  6. Music - something with a steady "feel good" beat, not too fast or too slow
  7. Mediation - 10-20 minutes (can be done during ice bath)
  8. Post Game Meal - Whole grains, protein, vegetable
  9. Epsom Salt & Apple Cider Vinegar (Heinz or White House brands) bath. Epsom salt baths are taken routinely, just before going to bed, the night before a major competitive event or race and just after. It also helps with combating jet lag. Use 1 cup of Epsom Salts per every 60 lbs. of body weight (it is not necessary to exceed 4 cups) in a hot bath tub of water (104 degrees F or less). The water temperature should be as comfortable, but as hot as you can take, for 15 to 20 minutes. You can use 2 to 4 times this amount if your body conditions warrant it. You do not want to burn yourself. You want to rub your skin all over with a wash cloth to open up the pores for absorption of the Epsom salts. If some areas are sore rub them a little longer. If you are treating an injury you should rub both the area of the involved site on one extremity and the same area on the other extremity. In rubbing both extremities you yield a little extra stimulation to the injured site. Don't rinse off before getting out of the bath tub. Just dry off and retire for the evening.

    More On Epsom Salts Bath

  10. Next day - continue to hydrate (weigh yourself and make up any lost weight not made up from day before), massage, Epsom salt bath for 15-20 minutes.

7 Secrets to Rapid Recovery

Rest and Recovery


"Exercise without supplementation is suicide, these are the words of Dr. Joel D. Wallach. And how true they are. EXERCISE WITHOUT COMPLETE AND OPTIMAL SUPPLEMENTATION IS SELF DESTRUCTIVE, and suicide. Farmers and ranchers very systematically put in vitamins, minerals and trace minerals in animal feeds to prevent and cure disease and illnesses. They learned that all working and producing animals, (all the way from the cow to the race horse), need additional nutrients above and beyond subsistence and maintenance levels. The same goes, and more so with humans. In many studies done we find an increase in the frequency and severity of sports injuries, behavioral problems, degenerative diseases, and even death in athletes because of this neglect....

Unsupplemented high-output athletes are more susceptible to emotional, traumatic, and degenerative diseases than the classic couch potatoe (or is that potato?). Certainly the average weekend athlete with common sense would not throw their life away by not supplementing with the known 103 essential nutrients each day (72 minerals, 16 vitamins, 12 essential amino acids and 3 essential fatty acids). Certainly then, the highly conditioned and trained serious athlete who invests considerable amount of time and money in their training and fitness programs would not throw their health or lives away by not supplementing. Yet the majority of people who exercise do not supplement because they have bought into the medical dogma that if "you eat right, you do not need to supplement, you can get everything you need from the four food groups" (WHICH IN MOST CASES IS TONS AND TONS OF TOO MANY CARBS).......

Or if you supplement "it only gives you expensive urine". Our farm and range soils are so depleted of nutrients, as a result of 100 to 200 years of intensive farming without appropriate mineral replacement. Why is it they cannot seem to make the connection that the food on their plate is anemic in nutrients? Two and two still equals four, so be smart as an athlete and supplement. Not only will it enhance your performance but it could save your life."


According to a report in the June 17, 1999 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs- aspirin, ibuprofen [Motrin, Advil, Nuprin], naprosyn [Aleve], Lodine, Votaren, etc.) caused fatal ulcers and killed about 16,500 people in 1997. If the toxic effects of NSAIDs were given its own category, it would be classified as the 15th most common cause of death in the U.S. NSAIDs cause more deaths than bone marrow cancers, asthma, cervical cancer or Hodgkin's disease and about as many as HIV/AIDS (Journal of Rheumatology 1999;26 Supp56:18-24). To make matters worse, these ulcers and other gastrointestinal complications are often not preceded by warning signs. Do I have your attention?

Researchers looked at patients who had undergone spinal fusion treatment, where two or more vertebrae are fused together, and discovered that patients who had taken a conventional NSAID (Toradol) were five times less likely to achieve successful union of the vertebrae than those who had taken no NSAID. (Spine 1998;23(7):834-838)


Stretch-induced muscle injuries or strains, muscle contusions and delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) are common muscle problems in athletes. Anti-inflammatory treatment is often used for the pain and disability associated with these injuries. The most recent studies on nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in strains and contusions suggest that the use of NSAIDs can result in a modest inhibition of the initial inflammatory response and its symptoms. However, this may be associated with some small negative effects later in the healing phase. Corticosteroids have generally been shown to adversely affect the healing of these acute injuries. Animal studies have suggested that anabolic steroids may actually aid in the healing process, but clinical studies are not yet available and the exact role of these drugs has yet to be determined. Studies on anti-inflammatory treatment of DOMS have yielded conflicting results. However, the effect of NSAIDs on DOMS appears small at best. Future research may have to focus on different aspects of these injuries as the emphasis on anti-inflammatory treatment has yielded somewhat disappointing results.

Abstract from Anti-Inflammatory Treatment of Muscular Injuries in Sport: An Update of Recent Studies, Sports Medicine, Volume 28, Number 6, 1 December 1999, pp. 383-388(6)

So how can we fight inflammation naturally:

  1. Omega-3 oils, especially EPA (fish oils) - 3 grams
  2. Bromelain - 2000 - 4000gdu
  3. GLA (Gamma-linolenic acid) - 2-3 grams
  4. Ginger - 100mg
  5. Curcumin (tumeric) - 2 mg
  6. Cat's Claw
  7. Anti-oxidants: Vitamin C - 1000mg and Vitamin E - 400IU (mixed tocopherols)
  8. Glucosamine/Chondroitin - 1500mg/1200mg
  9. MSM - 500-1000mg




Sleep deprivation causes decreased reaction time and diminished ability to sustain attention. These skills, called psychomotor vigilance, are needed for not only sports performance but also everyday activities such as driving. They are highly sensitive to sleep loss, often experienced by athletes on road trips, particularly after they cross multiple time zones.

Sleep Debt

Chronic sleep restriction, widespread among American adults, has serious adverse consequences for physical and mental performance, asserted sleep researcher William Dement, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry at Stanford University. The most important aspect of the body's homeostatic regulation of sleep, he said, is that sleep loss is cumulative. "When total nightly sleep is reduced by exactly the same amount each night for several consecutive nights," he reported, "the tendency to fall asleep in the daytime becomes progressively stronger each day."

Dement calls this phenomenon "sleep debt." As he explains, the brain records as a debt every hour of sleep that is less than a person's nightly requirement. This snowballing debt may include an hour of sleep lost a week or month ago, as well as the hour lost last night, he speculated. A large sleep debt can be reduced only by extra sleep.

In a landmark 1994 National Institute of Mental Health study, subjects stayed in bed in the dark 14 hours every night for 28 consecutive nights. At first, they slept as long as 12 hours a night, suggesting they entered the study with sizeable sleep debts, Dement said. By the fourth week, their sleep stabilized at a nightly average of eight hours and 15 minutes-a figure interpreted to mean that most adults need this amount of sleep each night.

From Sleep May Be Athlete's Best Performance Booster


Even apparently healthy, experienced exercisers undergo constant fluctuations in their health status. Fatigue from previous training sessions, impending illness, stress, and other factors can quickly and dramatically increase your risk of injury. Remain aware about your perceived comfort levels. Often, the body can be more "honest" about how it's feeling than the person occupying that body! Err on the side of caution. Long and slow wins the game. Smart trainees value safety and injury prevention over rapid changes in body composition. Make a chart for each day of the month and rate each of the following variables on whatever scale you wish.

Weight, Body temperature, Pulse rate, Hours of sleep, Times up Sleep, Stress, Fatigue, Soreness, Stiffness, Quality of workout, Mood, Appetite

I like a 0-10 scale. For example, if I felt very fatigued upon awakening, I would rate fatigue a 7 or 8 (10 would be complete exhaustion) and if I felt energetic, I would rate fatigue a 0 or 1 (0 would be full of energy and ready to go!).

Training Recovery Chart

A simple assessment can be done each morning by answering the following questions. The answer must be yes to all these questions; otherwise take the day off or go easy.

Orthostatic Heart Rate Test

If the difference is greater than 15-20 beats then it is probable that the athlete has not recovered from the previous days training or is under stress. The athlete should consider adjusting the training program to allow him/her to fully recover.


Almost all the available creams and ointments have two main ingredients: menthol and camphor. They may differ in concentration. Additionally, some have capsaicin, which is a pepper derivative that some people fine too hot on their skin. Some have methyl salicylate, which is a topical aspirin derivative. These creams do not "fix" anything, nor do they truly warm-up your muscles. They do help decrease pain by confusing the nerve endings in the skin. Your skin feels the cream, not the pain. They can be used before and/or after a workout, but they DO NOT take the place of moist heat or ice.


Type of bed: I prefer either the Tempurpedic or Select Comfort beds
Position: On your side with a pillow between the knees and a pillow that fills in the distance from your ear and neck to the edge of your shoulder.
Supplements: 5-hydroxytryptophan and melatonin (be careful, no more than 1 gram)



Overtraining Prevention and Recovery Enhancement, by Michael Kellmann

Underrecovery and Overtraining: Different Concepts, Similar Impact??, by Michael Kellmann

Overtraining, by Angela Peterson, Curtin University School of Physiotherapy