In the realms of lifting knowledge and annals of bodybuilding history, just about every possible topic has been covered at some point or another. Everyone you see in the gym has undoubtedly spent some amount of time googling what they should be eating, skimming a FLEX Magazine at Wal-Mart for tips on Building Big Arms in Six Weeks, or dove for a week into a dusty black and white Weider Principles book at their public library. The information is everywhere and almost universally covers all possible weight lifting topics, except one: Pre-Covery.
Pre-covery can best be defined as the very distinct art of planning your workout recovery, before the workout has even taken place. Before you walk into the gym and pick up your first weight or step foot inside that Body Pump class room, you will already have an infrastructure set in place to help manage your recovery and growth which will take place after the workout is complete. The first minutes to the next 48 hours after your workout is complete would encompass that pre-covery time period, and managing it is just as important as the training, recovery and nutrition you spend so much time focused upon now. Ready to learn more? Let’s check out each essential area of Pre-covery and learn how you can better manage each realm in order to optimize your bodybuilding success!
You should always be working to increase the flexibility and elasticity present in all muscle groups of your body, particularly those being targeted with each particular workout. Spend a few minutes stretching each morning to prevent injury and move blood throughout your body. Devote 5 minutes before each workout and 5 to 10 minutes after each workout, to stretching out the muscle groups being trained that day. Don’t push the muscles too far before training, as you may remove some infrastructure strength you’ll need. After your workout ends, and every few hours during the following 48 hours, you should be stretching that trained muscle group.
We all carry some burden of stress with us as we encounter the daily tasks of work, family, relationships, school, and more. And whether or not we realize it, that stress does follow us into the gym and out of the gym. When you complete a workout, your mind should be just as clear as those muscle fibers you just flushed with blood (training) and nutrients (post-workout nutrition). Cortisol is a stress hormone which the body releases in response to stressors, and can lead to muscle wasting and fat accumulation. Work to lessen the impact felt by stress and your recovery will receive a nice boost as a result.
The moment you finish the workout, you enter a very precarious period of time, mythically known as the ‘anabolic window’. It is a 20 to 30 minute period of time in which your muscle fibers, fresh from the thrashing they experienced in your training, are said to be particularly receptive to amino acids. By drinking a protein shake along with some simple sugars (a banana, for example), you can help to engage the growth and recovery process the moment it begins. The protein brings amino acids that the muscles need for recovery, and the simple sugars will shuttle the amino acids through your bloodstream faster. Potassium in the bananas also helps to lessen cramping you might face after a tough workout.
If you’re seeking an article on how to build muscles, then you are in luck. The library, the magazine stand, and the internet is packed with books on that. However, nary a bodybuilding publication has spent much time remotely interested in discussing how to best display those muscles. A very big part of that is skin care, and this topic is often overlooked. Immediately following your workout and moment you finish your post-workout shake and banana, it’s time to hop in the shower. If you live close to the gym and prefer to shower at home, use that option. If you have to get back to work, then you should definitely hit the gym shower. Hot water, soap, and lots of scrubbing will remove the sweat and toxic buildup from your skin which can lead to acne and infection. You’d never restore an amazing car, build a new engine, and forget to paint it, right? Take care of your skin so you can best display your muscles, whether it is in the bedroom, the boardroom, or the bodybuilding stage.
The food choices you make in the 48 hours after training will contribute to the pre-covery healing process and prime your body for the next upcoming workout. Stick with the right kinds of macronutrients and you’ll return to the gym stronger and more energetic every time. Carbohydrates (potatoes, rice, beans and pasta), Protein (eggs, milk, whey, casein, chicken, beef, fish) and fats (almonds, nuts, fish oil, egg yolks) along with a variety of fruits and vegetables should be the staples upon which you design an ideal diet consisting of the foods you love, prepared in accordance with your schedule. Dessert is fine from time to time, as long as you enjoy small portions with plenty of water. Speaking of water…
The majority of the people you encounter in the gym, as well as in the ‘real world’, live in a state of perpetual dehydration. They consume plenty of caffeine drinks and never get near 8 cups of water each day. As a result, their organs, brains, and muscles (among other parts!) are never functioning at optimal levels. You can combat this ailment known as perpetual chronic dehydration by engaging in a very complex series of tasks: carrying a water bottle with you everywhere you go. That’s it! If you always have a water bottle nearby, you’ll always be drinking. And the pre-covery process will have the water in place to move nutrients to other parts of your body to keep you growing at a strong and stable pace!