When you embark on training, it's not all about just jumping in the gym or hitting the pavements - sure, it's a great start, but it's important to think about the other things you might want to take care of in order to help you achieve your goals. I'm here to offer my top 5 must-do things that really help improve the quality of my training. And they all involve.... not training :)
This will not surprise a single person who knows me or follows me on social media. I have a 4.50am alarm call, which means that the night before, I'm tucked up in bed by 8pm. All experts point towards sleep for the best way to recuperate, allow your body to repair & ultimate recharge ahead of more training (and not to mention, work, life etc). I know if you've got mini people in the house, it's not always easy, but focus on trying to get quality sleep - M&F mag has some great tips on how to get the best rest. I couldn't train at the intensity I do without it, so if you're not getting enough, try and take some active steps to improve things
2. Massage those muscles and stretch
I'm a big fan of finishing off most sessions with a 10 minute power plate session but for most, this is a gym-only luxury. What can you do at home? FOAM ROLLING. Whether you're a runner, rower, weightlifter, swimmer or HIITer, this is simultaneously the least and most pleasurable thing to do after and between workouts. You can pick up a foam roller for about £20-£30 and I can personally recommend Trigger Point. There are loads of guides on YouTube for exercises you can do and the best thing is, you can do it in front of the telly. It helps iron out the kinks and knots in your muscles, helping with overall muscle soreness, flexibility / mobility and injury prevention. If you're training super hard, consider a sports massage. I'm going to start looking into these, because I keep hearing great things about them improving all of the above. As for stretching, my personal preference is to accompany all of my lifting sessions with dynamic (moving) stretches and mobility exercises before and between sets, and static (still) stretches at the end.
3. Rest like the best
Plan in a minimum of 1-3 rest days a week, depending on the frequency, length and intensity of your exercises. And REST! If you're an active person, and this kills you, go shopping or do a bit of gardening. If you're a lazy person (like me), then sit on your bum and catch up on some telly. In all seriousness, it's not just good for the body and your physical recovery, but it's good for the soul too. When I have a day off from the gym, I'm literally giddy at the prospect of getting back to the bar. Body and mind, rest helps all-round (feel free to combine foam-rolling with rest days, I see it as helping me physically unwind properly)
4. Eat like a king
You may know from my previous post that I'm a flexible dieter. One of the approaches is to not have high carb / low carb days and so on; your macros are worked out for the week and your rest days are considered in this calculation, so I have to try to resist the urge to under-eat because I'm not working out. It's a healthier approach and means at no point in the week am I having to hang back from the foods I like. Make sure you're getting the right macronutrients for the training you're doing, but if you follow flexible dieting and are hitting your goals each day, meal timing isn't critical, it's a personal preference. I train fasted for 5 out of my 6 weekly sessions and that suits me fine - I'm properly fuelled from my previous day's eating, so rarely do I wake up hungry. Drink plenty of water (obvs); rather than get fixated on the amount, I tend to just drink enough so my pee is running clear. Gross, sorry, but it's a top tip I got from someone else and it works for me!
5. Supplements... a necessary or a nonsense?
Personally, I choose to take a range of supplements because of the frequency and intensity of my training; I'm pushing my body in an unnatural way at times, so I make sure it's being looked after in the best possible way. My personal favourites are glucosamine (for joints and mobility), omega 3 (for fatty acids) & multi-vitamins. I take others along the way too, like BCAAs (for my fasted training) and CLA capsules to make up for the types of fatty acids I miss out on from not eating meat. Don't rely on protein shakes as meal replacements, my best advice is to use them as snacks or to help you reach your protein goal if you've not managed to get enough down you.
So there you have it.. and just to remind you, I'm really not a fitness or nutrition expert - this is all based on my own personal experience and advice I've received along my own journey. I put this post together based on feedback, so if it has helped you or raised more questions, please hit me up with a comment below!
Keep it strong!! xx