The most important part of your workout is the recovery period. That is when your body not only heals, but builds more body tissues (muscle, bone, etc).
There are several aspects to recovery and several different kinds of recovery. Before reading this article, I though recovery meant some stretching after a workout, a good diet, and plenty of sleep. Now I know better. Below are a couple of recovery concepts I had no idea about but now employ in my workout/recovery routine:
Energy stores available to cells during a workout are depleted and replenished rather quickly. They can be depleted in as little as 90 seconds and replenished as quickly as three minutes (after activity cesation). Therefore a good three minute rest between heavy sets is required to replensish these rapid-use energy stores (called phosphagen).
There are two types of rest, each having different impacts on the body’s recovery.
Passive rest is low-activity and most often occurs during sleep. Most adults need between seven and eight hours of sleep each night but for recovery, more is better. I’m an early riser, so that means I have to go to bed earlier to get extra sleep. I also don’t nap well—I always feel like I’m missing out on something if I nap.
Active rest is a concept new to me. Light cardio work (roughly 60% of your max heart-rate) is used during active rest to clear lactic acid from muscle tissues. It is estimated that ten minutes of active rest can clear 60% of the lactic acid build-up from muscle tissue.
Without a proper, active cool-down phase, it could take up to four hours to rid the body of built-up lactic acid.
Stretching after the active rest also helps to move lactic acid out of the muscles. It also helps restore contracted and swollen muscles to their original shape and length.