5 Simple Tips for a Better Recovery


When you train hard, you deserve to get good results. One of the best moments to improve your performance is the first hour after your training session. Here are 5 simple tips for a better recovery:

Cycling recovery

  1. Drink water
    60% of your body weight is water, so there is a buffer system to cover water loss during training. Nevertheless this water loss has a huge impact on your performance and must be replaced as soon as possible. Plain water is under normal circumstances adequate for rehydration, since solid food replaces the electrolytes lost during exercise. Thus, if you eat properly, you do not need to take any supplements to make it up for the electrolytes. Under very hot conditions it is, however, necessary to replace electrolytes as well as the lost water.
  2. Eat carbohydrates
    Blood glucose concentration regulates the secretion of insulin, which works as an anabolic steroid for you after training. Thus, we are interested in eating carbohydrates to stimulate the secretion of insulin and get all the benefits of this natural hormone. Insulin promotes the uptake of glucose from blood into cells (advanced version will come later), stimulates the synthesis of glycogen and promotes synthesis of muscle proteins.
  3. Eat proteins
    This is not an advice I will keep for strength lifters and body builders only. Muscles cells are built of proteins and they are broken down during training. Endurance athletes also need proteins immediately after training to recover from their effort. Just like carbohydrates, proteins stimulate secretion of insulin, which help building up the muscle again.
  4. Change clothes
    Get some dry clothes on immediately after training or competition. You can easily get a cold if you do not change clothes. And do it before you start to freeze, please. I have seen it a lot of times, when people are chatting after a race. Exactly that moment is one of the easiest moments to get ill.
  5. Cool down
    Take a short ride in small gears. It helps your muscles to recover from hard intervals or races. Removal of lactate and other metabolits is enhanced when you do light exercise. Depending on your overall fitness, I will recommend that you do a 5-20 minutes ride after each training session.
14 comments… add one
  • Ian

    What about some advanced tips – like iced water – how does that fit in? What about massages and hot baths? Which of these are good for cyclists, we often read about other athlete’s using them but not cyclists (or perhaps just not enough media about cyclists).

  • Lars Ejaas

    I know T-mobile used cold ice baths efter all of the stages in this years Tour de France.
    I also use ice bags on my legs after hard workouts or races – and I have had VERY positive results. It can really cure the feeling of sore and pounding mucles quite fast. Just make sure that you use a towel or simular between the ice and your skin to prevent frostbites.

  • Ian

    Lars,

    How many do you use? Do you just fill plastic bags with ice and put them on your legs? Do you use ice packs which you put in the refrigerator? Which muscles do you concentrate on? How long would you put them on for? Do you put them on for intervals (ie on for 5 min, off for 5 min)? How many times if you do intervals?

    Does anyone know what the benefit is? My neighbour (in the Aussie 4x100m sprint team for the Worlds) was talking about hot and then cold baths being for neurological benefit rather than physical. Is there any literature on this?

  • How long would you spend in the ice bath for each session? I’m curious if you also use NSAIDS at all.

  • Lars Ejaas

    I really haven’t used ice baths – just bags of ice (actually I use a kind of brown soap available here in Denmark. It doesn’t get hard when it is frozen – so I always have a few bags of soap lying in my freezer…).

    I REALLY do not like to use pain killers at all (I like to feel when I am sore, to prevent myself from doing more harm than good) – I have, however used some antiinflammatory/ pain killing gel on my knee once.

  • Ian

    Any particular intervals you use on the legs, or just stick it on and see how you feel?

  • Great advice. So many folks don’t realize the importance of cooling down properly. It is an integral part of training itself. Teaching ones body to recover takes some time.

  • Albert

    I usually only cycle back and forth to work etc.. but I am an avid handball player. We practice near the beach in Coney Island. Those of us who jump in the cold ocean water afterwards will swear it helps recovery time. Its like sitting in a ice bath.

  • bob

    Thanks for the ice suggestion. I filled my tub with cold water, the tap water gets pretty cold. My legs feel great! Much better than after previous hard rides.

  • Ben

    From a runners standpoint, I would stand in a trash can of ice water for 15 minutes. My coach informed me that it was to help reduce the lactic acid buildup in your legs, so you recover faster. I would ice my legs after hard runs, which were spread out onto Tuesdays and Thursdays.

  • Deslok

    The main reason they use icebaths is because the hormon which repairs muscles usually takes about 2 hours to be released after a hard training now only takes 15 min. So that means u can train 1.45 hours earlier or your muscles have 1.45 hours more rest! For most of us doesn’t make that the difference! beside that it’s even dangerous to do! They never do it alone. and there is always a second person who times exactly 15 min. So if i were u don’t try this @ home!

    And filling your own bath with cold water doesn’t trigger that system! It really has to be colder then 11 degrees! to get water on that temperature you need atleast 1/3rd of your bath of ice!

  • Daniel Smith

    Hello, Tonight I raced a criterium and although I won the preme sprint, I felt it was a failure. As soon as I got the sprint I had given it everything so I could not get onto the back of the peleton as they rolled past me. I had nothing left and could not recover. I have had this happen so many times, I just don’t know how to recover faster in a race after a sprint. How am I able to change this so I can sprint and still have something in me to get back on the back and go again later on?

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