Time To Read
- The secret to performance enhancement
- How to recover
- Looking after your health
Duration, intensity and frequency are the key points in improving your physical fitness for the race. But the secret to increasing your level of power, intensity, duration, and frequency lays in the recovery.
Because training and racing exhaust the body, recovery allows the body to adapt, improve, and most importantly, achieve the unachievable during the next race.
There's no doubt — the time spent recovering is as essential to an athlete as the time spent training. If you avoid giving your muscles the opportunity to rebuild and repair the damage, you will not have serious results in the next race and in your career in general.
Naturally, sports science specialists have been attempting for decades to enhance the method of recovery. Furthermore, they have been working on the reduction of soreness, injury and fatigue after the professional athletes training.
For example, flexibility training (continued stretching over time) proved to be extremely helpful in reducing the volume of tearing that happens through intensive training, according to this research .
Another successful approach to reducing muscle soreness and speeding the recovery process is active recovery, covered in a previous article
What to wear?
The process of recovery can also be greatly helped by including compression garments for the muscles. Of all the recent novelties, compression clothing is considered a great technique by numerous professional athletes. Although the compression system was used back in the 1970s, the modern popularity of compression clothing has been passionately accepted by athletes. In fact, it has specifically shown great results for the triathlon athletes .
If you are asking yourself where does the science of compression kit come from, here's a great study which proves it. It was conducted by the Australian Institute for Sport in 2010 and it proved astonishing results for the clothing. The study suggested that compression clothing lowered heart-rate during the exercise. Furthermore, it reduced swelling during recovery, diminished soreness and also enhanced athlete's performance.
The most advanced results of scientific research comes in the form of infrared sportswear which might sound like science-fiction. However, this bold approach to boosting the recovery has been available to athletes and sports enthusiasts since 2013 by KYMIRA SPORTS. Specifically, the space-era infrared garments have proven to be the most advanced help professional athletes can use in their quest for perfect recovery. The science behind it might sound as something borrowed from aliens, however it works perfectly with human body processes. Kymira embeds certain kinds of minerals within the fibres that make its threads. These minerals and fibres are creating a smart fabric for infrared sportswear such as leggings, tops, gloves and socks.
But, as with everything in life, recovery for professional athletes comes in stages and can include numerous different techniques. Some trainers recommend different approaches, while it's up to the athlete to decide on the level of emphasis they place on the recovery techniques adopted.
10 techniques for accelerated recovery
When it comes to hydration , things may be complicated. Why? Because recovery starts even before we start our training or race!
How well hydrated are we is something we have to consider! Also, it's crucial to know how to hydrate.
During a race, consumption of liquids will have a great influence on recovery time later. Sometimes it may be difficult to carry a good amount of fluid with you but do not be afraid to drink as much as you can.
Although it depends on the conditions and the individual, a general rule is to drink about 150-300ml every 15-20 minutes. Don't forget that a loss of just 1% of body water will increase your heart rate , reduce the maximum oxygen uptake, the VO2 max , and reduce your alertness.
The hydration rates after your workout for the next 4-5 hours should be at 125% of the estimated fluid loss. That's the reason it's good to weigh yourself before and after your workout. That way you can figure out how much fluid you lost.
2. Recovery nutrients and electrolytes
Taking the necessary nutrients for the body after the first 30 minutes of the ride is essential for quick and proper recovery. when we are thirsty, the main thing our body needs are the minerals. Make sure that your drink, during the race, also includes electrolytes for optimum replenishment. This is equally important during and after the race.
If you are an athlete running on glycogen, then your post-race meal should contain 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates and proteins. On the other hand, if you are one of the members of a brave new approach to sports nutrition for fat adapted athletes , your first nutrient and fuel should be a healthy source of fat.
Groundbreaking and game-changing research called the FASTER study examined elite endurance runners, on both high-fat and high-carb diets, showed that the consumption of a ketogenic diet with less than 10g of carbohydrates per day, over 4 weeks did not jeopardise endurance performance in elite cyclists. This is supported with another study conducted on a group of elite ultra-runners with a high-carbohydrate (HC) or low-carbohydrate (LC) diets where ultra-endurance athletes applying a ketogenic diet showed higher insulin sensitivity.
3. Performance enhancing sportswear
Compression equipment is really important! For example, wearing a pair of compression socks will reduce the swelling of the legs due to better blood circulation. This is particularly helpful, especially after a 50+ mile ride! Of course, KYMIRA Sport's cutting-edge technology offers increased benefits with The Infrared Compression Socks . The multiple benefits include:
Infrared garments, as previously mentioned, are the most advanced technology, that can greatly improve and speed-up recovery. When an athlete wears a Kymira Sport garment, the material consumes body heat and visible light. It then smartly transforms the heat and light to a targeted area of the infrared spectrum. The energy is, at that point, remitted back into the body, penetrating up to 4 centimetres. This process includes a number of beneficial biochemical reactions. In particular, increased circulation, higher tissue oxygen levels, as well as widespread quality in cellular metabolism. All these functions work synergistically for better energy utilisation. Numerous clinical studies and scientific texts confirm that KYMIRA products really influence and improve recovery from intense exercise. Furthermore, Far Infrared Radiation that is emitted by these advance technology garments can decrease an athlete's oxygen consumption during their Sub-maximal training.
As you drink your electrolytes and your muscles are still warm, it is the right time for your stretching. Dynamic stretching is usually performed before the race. However, it can help increase blood flow to the muscles, which speeds up recovery . It also improves the range of movement, helping muscles to gain elasticity. This is very important in your performance on the bike, but also in preventing injuries.
After the race, try not to sit immediately - walk for ten minutes to ensure proper circulation and then spend the same amount of time on stretching. Immediate stopping after the race can cause foot cramps that can further damage the muscle tissue. Mobility exercises could help additionally.
For most professional cycling athletes one of the privileges is daily massage. A good massage will cause the blood flow to the muscles and joints. This process increases the blood circulation in the areas where the massage took place, resulting in reduced recovery times.
Massage is also vital to preventing injuries caused by stiff muscle imbalances. However, if you can't have daily massages performed by a professional physiotherapist, there are special foam rollers that give you the ability to massage yourself. These soft tissue massage tools help tired or numb muscles in the same way that a professional masseur would do.
7. Active recovery
Sometimes all remedial techniques are not enough to rest. So instead of being totally inactive for a few days after hard training or riding, go out the next day and perform active recovery . Active low-intensity recovery improves blood circulation, which removes lactic acid from the muscles, facilitating rehabilitation to produce faster results than the sedentary approach. The ride should be on level ground, with light speed, minimal pedal pressure and at a pace which allows you to talk without breath shortening.
The amount of sleep of each person gets affects physical health, emotional well-being, mental capacity, productivity and performance. Keep a regular sleeping schedule, going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day. Lack of sleep can lead you to become more prone to colds and other illnesses. Also, researchers have found that people who do not sleep enough are likely to eat more during the day.
9. A nap
A nap after lunchtime has many benefits to your recovery. When we sleep the body releases growth hormones and testosterone which aim at muscle repair and fat loss. It also stimulates the immune system. It gives an opportunity to our mind to rest, while in the body gets an opportunity for rehabilitation after the tiring ride. A 20-minute sleep is refreshing, but the benefits we mention happen after 45 minutes of sleep.
10. Spending time with the ones you love
This might come as a surprise to you, but a very unusual study has been published and it concentrates on the association between love and athletic performance of Olympic Athletes. Most participants of the study felt their athletic performance was better while in love. Among many other claims from this study, researchers concluded that the motivation-reward system of the brain plays a major role. In fact, high-level athletes are extremely focused on the rewarding outcomes of excelling in their sport and winning competitions.
Over to you
Recovery is as important as the training itself for professional endurance athletes.
After a 50 mile ride, the worst mistake would be to spend a couple of days doing nothing and resting all the time.
Recovery, however, is a process that can come in different forms and techniques. Now, with many options for active recovery to suit your needs and personality, you are better equipped to add it to your training programme.
Let us know which recovery techniques have helped you improve your performance
About The Author
Apollonas Georgios Kapsalis is a personal trainer, nutritional therapist and the founder of www.greekgoesketo.com
If you have found this article interesting and would like to read some more information and advice, check out these other blogs for cyclists
5 Body Weight Exercises for Cyclists
Active Recovery for Endurance Athletes
Training for Muscular Endurance