Too many people think it’s all about the training. Of course, you can’t look great unless you consistently train hard, but I would never have been able to achieve the physique I have—and maintain it well into my 40s—if I hadn’t listened to my body and given it the best possible chance to fully recover between workouts. The six recovery methods I list here are ones that I’ve found to be completely indispensable. At this point in my life, I consider them just as important as training.
You cannot, as many people think, “catch up on” sleep. The body doesn’t work that way. You need to get at least eight hours of sleep every night—10 if you can. Consider it part of your workout, and schedule it just as you would a training session.
Lots of guys put off a massage till they’re so tight they can barely move. Don’t wait that long. Get massages to prevent that in the first place. Go for deep tissue or relaxing massages or both, to release tension and improve range of motion.
Heavy lifting over the years put a ton of torque on your joints and spine. But chiropractors can take almost anything that’s out of alignment and set it right again. This is a great way to stop serious injuries before they happen.
This relaxes muscles, relieves stress, and can release toxins. After big heavy-lifting days, I go for an acupuncture session. The whole body comes alive afterward. And check with your insurance provider—many now cover sessions.
Don’t stretch immediately before you train: Studies show it makes you temporarily weaker. But you still need to maintain flexibility, so do stretch nightly for 20 minutes before bed. And use a foam roller, to break up knots and further release tension.
Low-impact cardio is great, but how about no-impact? Swimming is just that—it gets your heart pounding in no time. It also opens up the body and prevents stiffness by getting all the joints moving through a full range of motion.
All I ask is keep an open mind and be willing to try them. You’ll never know what works best for you until you give everything a chance.