In doing Freeletics, you will take on a very high training workload. For this reason it is imperative that you use your training-free days for active regeneration, since these are the days your body recovers from your workload. Below we will explain briefly why recovery phases are so important, what happens during them and how you can actively promote growth and repair.
Training stimuli and regeneration - an interplay!
Freeletics is designed to be intense on your body and fatigue your muscles. Fatigue causes a lot of very small cracks in your muscle tissue, which are called microtraumata. This kind of trauma is not as bad as it sounds, as it is a vital stimulus for the stressed muscle to adapt to the workload and achieve a higher level by growing or condensing respectively. This process is called supercompensation. Training sets are only the stimulus, supercompensation takes place in the non-training phase – i.e. the regeneration phase – and needs to be given time. If a new training stimulus is introduced too early, the muscle can be weakened enormously.
The good news: You can actively support this process, so that you are soon fit again! The two important factors here are sufficient and high quality sleep and a balanced protein-based diet that is rich in vitamins and minerals.
Good sleep - recovery in full swing!
During sleep the body releases growth hormones. These aid – as the name suggests – both muscle growth and fat burning. At night, other body functions are shut down so that the body has time to repair damage in the body. Therefore, the higher the quality of sleep, the higher the quality of muscle regeneration is, which means a shorter recovery time.
This is why a certain regularity of sleeping times plays an important role: If possible, be consistent in when you go to bed and when you wake up. This greatly improves the quality of your sleep since the body becomes familiar with when it has to initiate processes that are critical for your recovery.
Nutrition - Regeneration from the inside!
Related to your feeling of hunger after a workout is the demand for stimulated muscles to be replenished! They need nutrients to function well. Foremost among these is protein. The body breaks protein down into amino acids, which in turn are the building blocks of muscle fibers. So without proteins the microtrauma can not be repaired – or it can take very long, because the body needs to mobilise amino acids from other sources. But proteins are by far not everything! Equally important factors are vitamins and minerals. On the one hand they help by more effectively harnessing the benefit of proteins and on the other hand, they ensure the release of hormones, which are required in the recovery process.
In addition to “what” you eat, the “when” is also very crucial! Immediately after exercise the body needs plenty of protein and – depending on your training focus – greater or fewer carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are very important in replenishing depleted glycogen reserves after exercise – it’s from these that muscle fibres gain most of their energy, preparing them for the next time you train.
In addition, give your body an extra serving of protein and micronutrients before bedtime, in order to support the reparation and reconstruction process. After an intense training unit, the recovery period can last up to 72 hours, which is why this rule also applies to non-training days! However, make sure not to eat too much, because a severe stomach is not conducive to a good nights sleep. If you feel neither hungry nor completely full, you have fed yourself just right.
Although the body recovers anyway, with proper diet and adequate sleep it regenerates much faster, better and more effectively. So pay attention to your sleep and your diet! Your body will thank you: In the form of milder and shorter muscle soreness, less fatigue and increased exercise performance.
Active regeneration – part of your training program!
Immediately after the training, it is recommended to slowly run-down for few minutes to keep the circulation going. The faster the body comes to rest, the slower is the lactate and acid clearance – and thus the regeneration. Also an extensive stretching is essential to carry metabolic waste away from aggravated muscles and to open cells for incoming nutrients. So even on non-training days, stretching and slight movements are very helpful!
Small, easy movements, stretching and heat stimulate blood circulation and thus the nutrient and oxygen exchange in the muscle cells. Saunas and hot baths, moderate running and casual walks can do wonders! However, be careful not to burden your muscles too much, only move them at an intensity that you are familiar with.
Adequate hydration should always be focus after training, since all metabolic processes of the body take place in the environment of water. When dehydrated, processes of digestion, restructuring and transportation of nutrients all suffer. In the long-term, endurance training is one of the decisive factors, since it optimizes a variety of systems and organism which play an important role in the recovery process.