Q: The fitness magazines always seem to focus on recovering nutritionally after a workout. This makes sense, so what should I be taking in to optimally recover?
A: You’re right — there is a big focus on recovery these days, and for good reason. If you think about it logically, the preparation for your next workout begins right after you finish up your current workout. Within 45 minutes of finishing a session, your cells are primed for nutrients, so replenishing fluids, carbohydrate, and protein (specifically amino acids) is ideal. The water will obviously help you to rehydrate, the carbohydrate will replenish your glycogen (or stored sugar), and the protein will reduce muscle breakdown and start the process of repair. This tight post-workout time frame is often called the “window of opportunity.” Consuming a recovery beverage during this period seems like the most reasonable option, especially since hunger is often blunted after a workout. There are a number of different recovery products on the market, but things like chocolate milk or even a homemade smoothie with fruit and protein powder would work well too. The ideal post-workout ratio is 2-4:1 carbohydrate to protein, and since you won’t have trouble finding products that meet this recommendation, the product you choose really comes down to taste and price. Happy shopping.
Q: I’m a die-hard runner, but I spoke with a trainer recently, and she said I should try to incorporate more cross training. It sounds like a good idea, but are there any specific guidelines that I should follow?
A: Cross training is a great idea. You can benefit significantly by engaging in activities that are outside of your comfort zone. You’ll be able to condition the entire body, add more flexibility to your workouts, and suffer fewer (or completely avoid) overuse injuries. Plus, it just makes working out more fun, because you’re always doing something new and challenging. There really aren’t any specific guidelines to follow. Just find a couple different things you like to do, and then rotate them consistently at varying intensity levels. There is one important thing to keep in mind, however. When you start incorporating some of these alternative activities, you may find the workouts to be a bit more challenging than you were anticipating. Let’s face it — you’re conditioned to run, so it may take some time to adapt to these new training stimuli. These adaptations represent the changes your body is making to get bigger, faster, and stronger, and that is definitely a good thing.
Information provided by Chris Palso, owner, Anytime Fitness, West Des Moines, 225-3224, www.anytimefitness.com.