The balance between training load and recovery is essential to ensure progressive improvements in fitness. Proper recovery between training can be as important as the training session itself. How quickly you recover from training is dependent on array of factors including age, current fitness, general health, quantity and quality of sleep, nutrient intake as well as general stress. Allowing adequate recovery allows for better adaptations from training and improved performance. Recovery strategies vary between individuals and each person needs to find the strategy that works best for them. This articles will cover some important considerations when developing your recovery strategy.
Active and passive recovery
Passive recovery involves doing no exercise. Good passive recovery involves doing very little activity either sleeping or relaxing on the couch, the reality is that with family and life commitment, this type of recovery seldom happens. All training programmes need to include at least 1 rest day a week. Passive recovery is an important aspect psychologically during an intense training block.
Active recovery, as the name states involves doing some form of activity. The aim of active recovery is to promote metabolic recovery without imposing excessive training stress on the body. Active recovery still involves riding, but the intensity and duration of the sessions are reduced. Many feel that active recovery is wasted time in the saddle but elite riders around the world spend a great deal of time doing this type of training. Active recovery also promotes increased blood flow, increased mitochondrial number and size, storage of glycogen within muscles and improved fat metabolism.
In order to achieve your active recovery goals in the studio, you can either do the IMTG sessions or reduce your FTP during a tempo session to your zone 1 power zones.
Nutritional considerations
Proper nutrition is almost as important as training itself. Nutritional considerations before and during rides has previously been covered in our August newsletter, but what you are eating after your sessions can play a vital role in how you feel during the coming sessions.
During high intensity sessions carbohydrate stores are used to fuel the exercise. After these sessions it is recommend to increase carbohydrate intake to restore glycogen and ensure its availability for coming sessions.
Lower intensity sessions are generally fueled by fat metabolism. These sessions are a great way to tap into the abundant fat stores we all have. After these sessions it is important not to binge eat and ‘restore’ carbohydrate as these stores should not have been used during the exercise.
Special consideration needs to be paid to protein intake after exercise. During exercise muscle is broken down and when completed the body begins to rebuild the broken down muscle. Immediately post exercise it is recommended to increase protein intake either by the use of supplements containing a whey isolate or a meal high in protein. This increase in protein intake can aid in the supercompensation of muscle and more muscle means more power. Chocolate milk has become a popular choice for post workout recovery, the reason for this is the sugar to protein ratio is optimal to aid in increasing glycogen stores while promoting muscle regeneration.
Nutritional considerations become even more vital during long endurance rides and stage races when you need to perform day after day. They also influence the quality of future sessions during the week.
When developing your recovery strategy other aspects should also be considered such as hydration and sleep. A genetic test such as the DNASport can also provide clues as to what type of strategy you need to look at for recovery. The test looks at different genetic markers and identifies whether special consideration needs to be paid to time between sessions or nutrient intake to prevent oxidative stress. Trying out other forms of exercise can also aid in your recovery and add some variety to your training programme. Strength and conditioning, yoga and pilates are all good examples of classes which will not only provide variety to your training but will also improve muscle strength which translates to power on the bike.
Keagan Pearson – Exercise Physiologist

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