Throughout the 8 week training program you will notice that each of the individual sporting programs incorporates rest or active recovery into the training process. Recovery during your sessions can be the 30 sec or 5 min rest between repetitions and the Wednesday and Sundays have always been allocated as active rest days, designed to enable you to take ownership and control over incorporating 30 minutes of physical activity a day in a non formatted manner.

Recovery immediately after workouts (cool down) is also important to help overcome stiffness and includes stretching, water therapies, relaxation therapy, hydration and nutrition. It is important that you consider the recovery methods recommended, as it will enable you to maintain performance and reduce the risk of injury.

Recovery after training and competition allows athletes to return to their normal physiological and psychological state as rapidly as possible and during the Fit & Healthy You program we are pushing you and progressively overloading your physical capabilities, so recovery is essential to ensure we enable you to reach your personal best. Recovery is employed so that performance in their next competition or training session will not be unduly compromised by muscle soreness and/or fatigue.

The approach that we employee for recovery for participants in the Fit & Healthy You program is not going to all that much different to what myself and my Olympic colleagues undertook in our Olympic training endeavours. With the help of my dietitian whilst in Olympian training with the Victorian Institute of Sport, Kylie Andrew, we will both assist you to recover appropriately.

By following some basic recovery processes we will ensure that you reduce the DOMS period (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). DOMS is that painful feeling you have in your muscles after your exercised for the first time in quite a while or increased your intensity throughout the Fit & Healthy You program. I quite like the feeling because you know you’ve been training hard in search of your personal best, but at the same time, we don’t want to be in pain each and every time we stand up from our desk position, so here’s some great tips we encourage you to follow after each session.

Please keep in mind there are a number of recovery methods and the nutrition recovery (refuelling and rehydration) is the easiest to accommodate, followed by warm down, hydration therapies, massage and rest. With time constraints upon us all, try and employ nutritional recovery each day and at least once a week undertake an additional method, such as a weekly massage or weekly ice bath.

There are a number of ways to enhance recovery including:

  • Nutrition

  • Rest and sleep

  • Warm-down, stretch

  • Massage

  • Hydrotherapy

What are the priorities for recovery nutrition?

Between each work-out, the body needs to adapt to the physiological stress. In the training situation, with correct planning of the workload and the recovery time, adaptation allows the body to become fitter, stronger and faster. Recovery encompasses a complex range of process that include:

restoring the muscles and liver with expended fuel

replacing the fluid and electrolytes lost in sweat

allowing the immune system to handle the damage and challenges causes by the exercise bout

manufacturing new muscle protein, red blood cells and other cellular components as part of the repair and adaptation process.


The muscle can restore its fuel (glycogen) levels by about 5 per cent per hour, provided that enough carbohydrate is eaten. Depending on the fuel cost of the training schedule and the need to fuel up to race, a serious athlete may need to consume 6-10g pf carbohydrate per kg body weight each day (300 -700g per day). If the time between prolonged training sessions is less than 8hrs, it makes sense to use all of this period for effective refuelling. To kick-start this process an intake of at least 1g/kg of carbohydrate - 50-100g for most athletes - is needed. This has lead to the advice that athletes should consume carbohydrate - either their next meal, or at least a snack - as soon as possible after an exhausting workout, to prepare for the next.

The following list provides examples of the best foods for recovery. Choose 1-2 of these to eat ASAP as they each provide 50 grams of carbohydrate:

750ml Gatorade (2 large cups)

50g jelly beans/jelly snakes etc

1 python snake

2 medium-sized bananas

2-3 pieces of fruit e.g. apples

Large serve of fruits like melons

2 fruit muesli bars4 weet-bix with 1 cup milk

1 cup cereal (e.g. sportsplus) with 1 cup milk

1 ½ cups cereal (e.g. special K) with 1 cup milk

3 slices toast with jam or honey

4 slices toast with vegemite

1 Up & Go plus 1 banana

After weight training you may also benefit from including some protein in your recovery snack. This can be achieved by having yoghurt with your fruit, cheese in a sandwich or a low fat smoothie.


Most athletes finish training or competition sessions with some level of fluid deficit. In hot conditions or after strenuous sessions, fluid losses are usually large and require a focused effort to rehydrate after the workout. In this case, comparing pre- and post-session measurements of body weight can provide an approximation of the overall fluid deficit. Athletes may need to replace 150% of the fluid deficit to get back to baseline - for example, if you are 2kg lighter (2 litres lighter) at the end of the session, you will need to drink 3 litres of fluid over the next hours to fully replace the existing and ongoing fluid losses.

Choose water or sports drinks. Avoid caffeine-containing drinks (tea, coffee and cola drinks) and alcohol, which are dehydrating. Remember that your weight is a good guide to your hydration status and can tell you how much more you need to drink after training.

Warm up/cool down

Olympic track and field sprinter Adam Basil has provided an excellent range of warm up and cool down sessions in the warm up section – click here for more.


Massage, applied skillfully, is the most effective therapy for releasing muscle tension and restoring balance to the musculo-skeletal system. Received regularly this may help athletes and anyone wanting to stay in great shape prevent injuries, which might otherwise be caused by overuse. A constant build up of tension in the muscles from regular activity may lead to stresses on joints, ligaments, tendons, as well as the muscles themselves. Depending upon your body needs, if you are undertaking any of the Red, Orange or Green training programs you might consider a massage every 2-4 weeks.


Water therapies include; spa baths, pool sessions, contrast baths and ice baths. The theory behind the ice bath is that the icy cold causes the blood vessels to tighten, draining the blood along with waste products such as lactic acid out of the legs. It also helps minimize inflammation and pain associated with tiny, microscopic tears that occur during intense physical activity. The contrast with heat is to increase circulation and therefore blood flow to fatigued muscles. The contrast shower is a popular and effective recovery method among Olympic athletes.

Contrast shower

  • Can be used anytime, but is best immediately after training sessions.

  • Alternate 1 minute of hot (as hot as tolerable) with 30 seconds of cold water

  • Repeat 3 times

  • Always finish on cold

  • Do not stay in hot longer than 5 minutes

Rest and sleep

A restful 8 hour sleep is advised for everyone, regardless if you are trying to increase your exercise activity or simply wanting to operate effectively and efficiently in life. You will find that with the more exercise you undertake, the more you crave sleep and this sleep will be highly effective, ensuring you feel fully rested in the morning. Listen to your body and if it wants to go to bed an hour earlier than usual then provide it with a treat and follow.

Recovery for Immune System

In general, the immune system is suppressed by intensive training, with many parameters being reduced or disturbed during the hours following a work-out. This may place athletes at risk of succumbing to an infectious illness during this time. Many nutrients or dietary factors have been proposed as an aid to the immune system - for example, vitamins C and E, glutamine, zinc and echinacea - but none of these have proved to provide universal protection.

The most recent evidence points to carbohydrate as one of the most promising nutritional immune protectors. Consuming carbohydrate during and/or after a prolonged or high-intensity work-out has been shown to reduce the disturbance to immune system markers. Carbohydrate intake may be beneficial for a number of reasons. For example, it reduces the stress hormone response to exercise thus minimising its effect on the immune system. It also supplies glucose to fuel the activity of many of the immune system white cells.

Recovery for Muscle Repair and Building

Prolonged and high-intensity exercise causes a substantial breakdown of muscle protein. During the recovery phase there is a reduction in catabolic (breakdown) processes and a gradual increase in anabolic (building) processes. Recent research has shown that early intake of essential amino acids from good quality protein foods helps to promote the increase in protein rebuilding. In fact, protein consumed immediately after, or in the case of resistance training work-outs, immediately before the session, is taken up more effectively by the muscle into rebuilding processes, than protein consumed in the hours afterwards. However, the protein needs to be consumed with carbohydrate foods to maximise this effect. Carbohydrate intake stimulates an insulin response, which potentiates the increase in protein uptake and rebuilding.