Recovery 101

Get Stronger, Lose Fat and Add Muscle

Recovery is a key player in your exercise and fitness plan, no matter what your goals are— but it’s something that some people overlook. Not devoting enough time to recovery will shortchange the results of your hard work in the gym. From the conventional to the contemporary— here are a few safe and effective ways to recover from putting our bodies through those intense exercise sessions. I suggest using a combination, if not all of these recovery methods in healthy moderation.


This tried-and-true recovery method uses specific forms of assisted resistance stretching to create immediate and highly effective increases in flexibility, muscle balance and recovery.

Stretching prevents and soothes muscle soreness by removing the layers of tension that may be covering up the true cause of pain by applying “eccentric strength” movements. I suggest becoming knowledgeable on performing your own resistance stretches safely, or working with a certified and knowledgeable trainer or stretching specialist to assist you in the stretches. The key is to get a mild stretch without overdoing it and causing more damage. This results in a better body, better posture and better balance from the inside out.


Side note: practicing mindfulness while stretching is also a great mental recovery tool, while using techniques that incorporate muscle activation and muscle balancing to ensure that your mind and body are working at its most productive state. This can help create a better and stronger you— mind, body and spirit.


A conservative, quality line of supplements is key to achieving maximum results, but more importantly to help to aiding in the rebuilding and repairing process of broken muscle fibers. I suggest taking a good quality protein supplement for immediate recovery within 20 minutes after workouts.

For a slower processing recovery, a slow-digesting form of creatine is ideal. Creatine is a natural supplement that helps produce muscle mass, but what some people may not know is that it also helps with fatigue, recovery, endurance and brain functions. Moreover, studies even show that creatine helps fight off certain diseases. The nice thing is creatine has benefits regardless of your current fitness level, so I recommend anyone that is working out regularly take it consistently for best results.


Foam rolling and massage therapy is a wonderful form of recovery. It feels amazing and also delivers major results. Foam rolling can be done just about every day, before and/or after a workout. Electric foam roller tools are now available for supercharged fitness recovery.

If your workouts are on point, strive for at least one massage therapy session every month. A licensed and knowledgeable massage therapist will really do wonders for your body if you include it in your recovery regimen. Pointer: make sure to breathe deeply during your foam rolling and massage therapy sessions to pump oxygen though the muscles. If you’re holding your breath, it usually indicates you fear something. Let go!


Currently “in vogue” with many stars and pro athletes, this cutting-edge form of recovery can also be beneficial in more ways than one. According to Mourad Guiragossian, owner of Mode Body Boutique in Chicago, by shivering off stores of “brown fat,” which is our emergency reserve of fat in extreme situations, an individual can burn up to 800 calories in two to three minutes of cryotherapy. So not only is this a form a recovery, but a way to zap hard-to-reach fat. In addition, cryotherapy improves blood circulation, skin rejuvenation, anti-aging and produces collagen. It was originally used to help with rheumatoid arthritis, was first introduced in Japan in 1973, and 40 years later is a phenomena. Some health insurance plans in Europe actually cover the procedure! Guiragossian offers cryotherapy in his gym and has noticed fewer injuries and faster recovery of the users. Not only is cryotherapy effective, but also more powerful than RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation) because people are more likely to do it and stick with it. Cryotherapy enhances all the benefits of cold therapy with better compliance.


One of the easiest and simplest methods of recovery is to drink plenty of water to keep muscles hydrated and less prone to injury. I also suggest a low sugar, good-quality coconut water and other natural, rich sources of potassium. For intense training sessions, replenish with a sports nutrition recovery drink containing all five essential electrolytes.


Nothing modernized about this one! Rest prevents from overtraining. Taking a rest day one day a week, minimum. You can still perform an active rest such as cardio on your rest day, however, always give yourself a break from the weights whenever you feel overtired. It’s cliché, but listen to your body. Getting adequate amounts of sleep every night is crucial, and the easiest form of recovery!

Michele Sotak

Michele Sotak is a Chicago-based certified personal trainer, fitness expert and Life Fitness Academy Master Trainer. As only one of five Master Trainers for Life Fitness and Hammer Strength, Michele travels the country to educate customers on exercise equipment.

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