The Simple 3 Minute Routine to Maximize your GAINS
Gains are not made in the gym. Gains are made hours after the gym, when your body is in recovery mode, refueled, and rested for optimal adaptation. So many athletes focus on training harder, and harder, but never take into account how their body will recover from these trainings, and end up leaving potential gains on the table. This easy post workout routine will help kick start your recovery, and stimulate the adaptation process where all of your gym gains are made.
Working out is stressful. The purpose of exercise, is to place certain amounts of targeted stress on the body, to force the body to adapt to that stress and come back stronger the next time (called super compensation). The problem is, your body does not know the difference between workout stress, work stress, relationship stress, or any other type. Stress is stress, and when we have too much, we cannot adapt which leads to decrease in performance, illness, and possible injury. With this 3 minute post workout routine, we can take the body out of our stress mode, called a sympathetic nervous system response, and stimulate our parasympathetic nervous system, or rest and recover mode. This will serve as a cool down to cap off the hard work you just put in, and reset your body into a recovery mode so you can begin the recover and rebuild process before you even leave the gym.
Follow these simple steps after every intense workout, or even just in times of high life stress, and watch how much better you feel immediately and hours later.
Allow you’re breathing to come back to a normal level before beginning this drill, and set a timer for 3 minutes (you can build up to 5+ minutes but set 3 as the minimum).
Find a place on the floor, preferably somewhere quiet, but it doesn’t have to be, just somewhere that you won’t be stepped on or interrupted.
Lie on your back in a comfortable position, with your feet up on a wall, or a box, or bench. Knees and hips should be bent at 90 degrees, and low back is flat (neutral). If you can elevate your hips slightly on a yoga block or pillow so they are just above your heart that is an added bonus. Eyes should be closed, using a towel or shirt over your eyes if it helps you keep them closed and relaxed.
Start by taking a long, slow, deep exhale in your nose. Focus on filling up your midsection with air first. Feel your lower ribs expanding, your belly lifting, and your lower back filling up with air. Notice if you feel your breaths really shallow, getting stuck in your chest. If so, take some time to work on pulling the air down to fill up your belly, and not expanding or elevating your chest.
When you have filled up your lungs from the bottom up, gently hold the air at the top for a few seconds. You should be nice and relaxed, not struggling or straining to hold the air in.
After a few seconds, release the air by hissing through your teeth. Focus on slow, gradual, exhalation, and make the hissing audible and with purpose.
On the next inhale, count slowly during the whole inhale, seeing how long it takes you to finish that breath. Hold gently for a few seconds, and then release the air, hissing as you exhale and counting the duration of the exhale.
As you continue this breathing, see if you can expand the length of your inhales and exhales. Particularly focusing on lengthening the exhales as long as possible.
Repeat this breathing practice for the allotted time, staying focused on the deep inhale into your belly, and lengthening the exhale each time.
When the timer goes off, open your eyes and get up slowly. If you were doing it right, you should feel very relaxed, with your mind open and clear, and your body relaxed feeling like you are ready to take a nap.
This little hack allows you take advantage of a few different processes in the body, from optimizing parasympathetic nervous system (rest and recover) stimulation with body positions and breathing tricks, to relaxing your brain with a simple mindfulness of the breath (counting) drill. Staying focused on the counting of each breath, and where you feel that breath in the body, keeps your mind on the breath, termed mindfulness. This does not allow your mind to wander onto all the other things in your life or your day that may cause anxiety, worry, and stress, but instead keeps you centered in the moment of recovery.
All of these little tricks are commonly used in peaceful practices such as yoga, breathing workshops, and meditation, but can be simplified and shortened for athletes in this super simple and effective post workout routine. Try it out and hack your recovery to maximize your gains!