How to Boost your Performance Through Recovery - COACH London

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How to Boost your Performance Through Recovery

February 2023

Whether you are a professional sportsman, or a complete beginner to exercise, optimising your recovery is the key to improving health, fat loss and performance.

I love the saying ‘You can only train as hard as you recover’. I think it’s such a true statement and I’ve seen it relate to so many people. As a society, we do everything at a million miles an hour and regularly burn the candle at both ends. Consequently, we do very little to help improve our ‘health bank account’, instead we are constantly making withdrawals to the detriment of our health.

So many areas of life can affect recovery. Poor sleep quality, stressful work environment, nutritional intake, dehydration, and poor lifestyle choices are just a few examples.

Here are 6 simple strategies that I have found have made the biggest improvements to my clients’ health and recovery over the years.


1. Lime and salt upon wakening every morning

Take 1/4 teaspoon of pink Himalayan salt (any coloured salt will work) with the juice of one freshly squeezed lemon or lime in water. This is the first requirement I ask of every single one of my clients. It’s quick and easy to do yet the impact it can have on your health is huge. It has the following benefits:

  • Coloured salts have a higher mineral count than a bleached white table salt therefore increasing the intake of essential minerals such as magnesium.
  • Helps nourish the adrenal glands. These glands are responsible for the production of the stress hormone cortisol and can become burned out easily.
  • Helps raise morning cortisol levels therefore increasing morning energy. Cortisol should be at its highest in the morning with a gradual decrease in release throughout the day.
  • Salt has an anti-microbial effect on the digestive system, helping to improve the GI Tract.
  • The lemon/lime juice can help alkalise your body early in the day. Improving the acid/alkaline balance in the body can help improve detoxification. We want to be alkaline in the morning and acidic at night.


2. Animal protein and healthy fats-based breakfasts

This is the second requirement I ask of most of my clients. Adding high-quality animal proteins such as meat, fish, and eggs with healthy fats such as avocado, nuts/seeds and olive/coconut oil can help balance blood sugar levels for the day and improve neurotransmitter production, which are the chemical messengers of the brain. A breakfast rich in protein and healthy fats can help raise morning dopamine and acetylcholine levels which are responsible for your energy, drive, and concentration levels. Adding vegetables to this is optimal to increase nutrient intake.

With this said diet is unique to each individual and whilst this works well for most of my clients, some respond better to added carbohydrates.


3. Optimise your sleep

Sleep plays a huge role in every part of our lives. Yet we place so little importance on it, however lack of good sleep often results in serious negative effects on our health.

Here are my top tips for improving your sleep:

  • Make sure your bedroom is pitch black. Either use a blackout blind or an eye mask and remember to turn off all electronics at the socket.
  • Keep your phone as far away from you as possible, ideally out of the bedroom. If you have to use it as an alarm then switch it to airplane mode to reduce electromagnetic radiation.
  • Try not to use your phone/computer for at least 1 hour before bed as the light emitted can reduce your melatonin production, therefore reducing the quality of sleep.
  • Have a regular sleep/wake cycle. Ideally, go to bed and wake up at the same time every day of the week. This can help improve your natural circadian rhythm.
  • Keep your bedroom cool, sleep in minimal clothing, and invest in a high-quality mattress and pillows.
  • Limit caffeine intake to 1-2 cups a day and do not consume after 12pm. Coffee is best consumed before a workout. Limit alcohol intake also as this too can impair sleep quality.
  • Introduce a magnesium supplement. Magnesium is a yin nutrient that plays a huge role in calming the nervous system. Anyone who struggles to get to sleep and suffers cramps or twitches should definitely look to increase their intake. You can take magnesium orally in capsule form. Another fantastic way to absorb magnesium is to take an Epsom salt bath in the evening, as this way it is absorbed through the skin bypassing the digestive system. Try at least 500g of Epsom salts in the bath water 3 times a week.


4. Sauna therapy/hot cold therapy.

Sauna therapy has been around for years with many research studies showing its therapeutic benefits. Infrared saunas are preferable to traditional saunas as the infrared heat penetrates deep into the tissues. When using a sauna make sure you go in already sweating (for example at the end of a workout) to maximise your time in there.

TIP: Try to make sure you ‘towel off’ throughout, wiping the sweat off you as this can reduce the reabsorption of toxins.

Sauna therapy can help with the following:

  • Detoxification – sweating is one of the most powerful tools to increase detoxification.
  • Promotes relaxation and balancing of cortisol levels.
  • Improved circulation – this is key in regenerating tissue health post-exercise.
  • Anti-inflammatory – helps to relieve inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and ease sore muscles.

If you don’t have access to a sauna then using hot/cold shower therapy can be very effective. The easiest way to do this is to switch the shower temperature between hot and cold for around 1 minute at a time. This can help improve circulation, reduce lactic acid, and can stimulate growth hormone production. Studies show that having a cold shower in the morning is the most effective way to improve growth hormone production.

TIP: Ice baths are another superb tool if you have access to one. Regular cold, water exposure has a multitude of health benefits.


5. Find a great soft tissue therapist

I am a huge fan of massage and soft tissue therapies, however, finding a therapist that you love is a difficult thing. Once you find one don’t let them go!

All forms of massage are fantastic. Personally, I like a deep tissue sports massage, ideal for releasing tension in tight areas or if I simply want to relax then I opt for a lighter Swedish massage. I try to get one once a week and have found it helps my recovery enormously.

The benefits are very similar to those that come with sauna therapy, but one added benefit of massage is the whole process of treating yourself. Not many people practice self-care in a way that is physically restorative.


6. Improve your pre/intra/post workout nutrition.

This is a hugely underrated factor in terms of recovery. As always If your daily nutrition is not up to scratch then fixing that should be the priority, however improving your intake of nutrients around your workout can have profound effects such as decreasing soreness, increasing muscle mass, and recuperation from injury.

This is such a huge subject that I could write a full article on it alone, but for now, I will just cover the basics.

  • Take a high-quality amino acid supplement pre/during training. I like products that contain both BCAA (Branch Chain Amino Acids) and EAA (Essential amino acids) as they will not only help prevent muscle breakdown but also increase anabolism of the muscle. I’d recommend around 20g pre-training or during a session. Go for powder over capsules as it’s much easier to consume.
  • Drink a high-quality whey protein shake post-workout. If you have a problem digesting whey protein then a vegan protein such as pea protein is a great choice. The increase in protein synthesis will help you recover faster from that session. The liquid nature of these shakes makes them easier for the body to digest over food as they’re already partially broken down.


Add carbohydrates to your workout:

A few factors can determine your need for carbohydrates during training.

1. Your body fat levels. The leaner you are the greater the need for carbohydrates.

2. The activity you are doing. For example, if you are doing a 20 min interval training session then the need for carbohydrates is low compared to say a 3 hour marathon run.

3. Muscle mass levels. The higher your lean muscle mass the greater the need for carbs.

I recommend the following:

  • Manuka honey
  • Maltodextrin
  • Branched cyclic dextrin
  • Fruit/fruit juices

Which of the above you use will depend on your goals and budget.


Water intake and electrolytes:

A lack of water intake is probably the most common thing I see in clients. With how I structure a client’s nutrition plan their water intake is usually covered by the lime/salt in the morning, amino acids and post-workout shakes.

However, for someone whose water intake is chronically low then forming new habits is the key thing. When at work setting an alarm on your phone to go off every hour is a good way to remind yourself to sip from your bottle or to get up and get a drink.

For those looking for optimal performance then staying hydrated is imperative. Studies show that even a 2% drop in body weight from water can have a detrimental 20% drop in performance, at these times it’s not just water you need to hydrate but adding electrolytes also.

Electrolytes are lost through sweat during intense exercise or high temperatures. When electrolytes are depleted in the body it can lead you to become tired, cramp easily, and become dehydrated. They also play a role in muscle signaling between the muscles and the brain allowing muscles to either contract or relax. Adding these to your water or shakes will have a massive benefit.


Incorporating these lifestyle/diet changes all at once is not essential but the more you implement the better you will feel.

If you have any questions or would like to arrange a session with Mark, please email or call +44 20 7315 4260.

Written by Mark Roper, Head of Education and Principal Coach at COACH London


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