The dirty secret of committing to fitness: Your new hobby doesn’t end when you leave the gym.
As anyone who’s awoken unable to raise their arms above their head can tell you, the way you recover from a workout is almost more important than the exercise itself.
If you’re going to ask your body to work harder than it ever has before, it’s your responsibility to help it heal. Whether that means taking an extra ten minutes to stretch out, or blending up a protein shake when you get home from a run, it’s important to tailor your recovery program to how your body feels.
Working out causes something bodybuilders love to label “DOMS:” delayed onset muscle soreness. It’s not the lactic acid in your muscles that’s the culprit, but rather incredibly small tears in the muscle tissue. Those little rips aren’t necessarily harmful — quite the opposite, since they heal stronger than before. But, they do require some extra love and attention.
Even if the name isn’t familiar, you’ve undoubtedly seen his work in the toned, strong bodies of stars like Blake Lively and Scarlett Johansson, not to mention Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman. Saladino is part owner of New York City’s Drive 495, a gym known for its emphasis on recovery and fitness without making excuses.
Whether you’re about to tackle a big race or just hitting your regular kickboxing class, we could all get a little more knowledgeable about what our bodies need.
Saladino confidently shares his fitness philosophy, saying,
The idea is to wake up day in and day out feeling good. If you can maximize each workout, you’ll see more results in the long run. It’s not about working out more days, it’s about working out smarter.
If you’re new to the gym, take it slow.
Like wakeboarding or abstract expressionism, fitness is a learned skill. With the learning curve in mind, Saladino advocates limiting yourself at first. Whether you’re a newbie or just getting back to a regular workout schedule, take your time.
A little soreness is not going to kill you...If you’re just starting off and worried about being sore, keep the volume low and your workouts to no more than 30 minutes. This should help drastically.
Schedule a regular block of time for fitness, increasing as you go. Learn to honor the commitment first, then up your intensity.
Plan gym time around your best hours.
We often hear that working out in the morning is best, but that’s not necessarily true if you’re a total night owl. Instead of groggily dragging yourself out of bed at 6 am, obey your body’s natural clock. If 8 pm is your sweet spot, get fitness in then.
Saladino also notes that the gym isn’t the only place you should stay active. Break periods of sitting at your office desk into 30-minute intervals, being sure to take a walking break and stretch your legs. If the end of the work day brings stiffness in your back and legs, take a few minutes to stretch out at home.
Eat, then eat again.
Women’s magazines often recommend limiting calories, but that’s not necessarily the solution to weight gain. Instead, it’s about making those nutrients count in your fitness regime. Saladino has his clients eat small meals every three hours, so they never feel starved or frustrated.
When we overeat, the body cannot digest everything we’re feeding it which can spike blood sugar levels and cause your energy to crash…Look at your metabolism as a camp fire; we want to keep feeding it small pieces of wood.
Pack in carbohydrates directly after a workout — Saladino recommends a little serving of white rice along with your protein shake. The rice raises blood sugar, keeping you from a midday meltdown.
Make protein powder your new best friend.
Choosing a protein supplement can be a terrifying trial packed with large, shouty fonts and overblown claims. To choose the right kind for you, Saladino recommends doing your research to find a product that’s certified USDA organic. His pick? Garden of Life.
Once you’ve purchased the supplement, start adding it into post-gym shakes to boost your protein intake. Saladino also recommends taking it on the run, instead of skipping breakfast or lunch on a busy day.
I would never let protein powder replace a real meal, but I think [between meals] could be a great time to add it in, especially if work or travel [is] getting in the way.
Break out that shaker bottle, because a busy day is no excuse for falling off the wagon.
Tune into your body, both in the kitchen and the bedroom.
We’re all guilty of coming home from class ravenous, then stuffing a week’s worth of groceries into our faces in one go.
To prevent the post-sweat binge, Saladino recommends starting with a protein shake and letting it settle for an hour. By that time, your brain will have registered that your stomach’s received its due. You can start planning a nutritious, veggie-packed dinner afterward.
Saladino emphasizes that another crucial aspect of recovery time is noting important external factors in your life, like stress or sleep deprivation, that may have you running lower than usual. Everyone’s body is different, so adjust your recovery schedule to your needs, taking an extra day off if you’re not feeling great.
Make concrete plans for fitness success.
Everyone heals differently, but Saladino is a huge proponent of a good old fashioned stretch session when you finish up your workout. If you find your muscles still hold tension days later, look into alternative therapies like saunas or cold baths.
For his part, Saladino even recommends ten minutes of meditation a day as an unlikely way of encouraging the body to work more efficiently.
Outside of the spa, make decisions with a thought towards your training. Everyone loves a happy hour, but the calories can set you back. If you must drink, Saladino advocates eating a meal beforehand to ensure there’s something to “soak up” all the booze.