Week 2: Recovery Methods That WORK

Congrats on finishing the first week of your program! Every great success story has a beginning. This, my friend, is yours.

As you jump into the second week of this program, I want you to focus on making some progress from last week. After all, the key to results in the gym is something called ‘progressive overload,’ which is basically just fancy speak that means doing a little more or a little better than you did last time.

Since you’ll be repeating last week’s workouts once more this week, I want you to see how you can put progressive overload to work. You can do that by increasing the amount of weight you use on an exercise, pushing yourself a little harder, adding an extra rep or two, or even cutting out a rep or two and really working on your form. It’s simple—and I promise it works.

Just focus on paying attention to how you feel in your workout and dial it up where you can. You’ll be stronger (and leaner!) for it.

But the harder you’re working, the more important it is to make sure you’re recovering properly! After all, we’re trying to see results here. Always remember: When you’re working out, you’re not actually building muscle, but tearing it down. That muscle building happens when you rest and recover—helping you develop a stronger, leaner body. The better and faster you recover, the greater your results will be.

To stay on the fast-track to fit city, make sure you’re keeping the following factors of recovery at the top of your to-do list:

1. Sleep

Sleep, in my opinion, is the most underrated aspect of human performance. When we sleep, our body regenerates on a cellular level—and that recovery sets us up to keep adapting and seeing results.

The simple fact is, though, that most people aren’t getting nearly enough high quality sleep. Notice I didn’t say enough hours. Yes, it’s recommended we get between seven and nine hours of shuteye a night—but the key is that those hours are high quality.

Here’s the deal. Sleep impacts the way your brain functions, how well you’re able to fend off a cold or a severe illness, whether or not you’ll have a “good” workout, and how successfully you’re able to lose weight.

When you miss out on sleep, it can actually derail your ability to regulate your appetite, causing you to feel hungrier which, naturally, leads to eating more. And those extra calories—which often end up being carbs—leads to more weight gain.

And you know those workouts that feel like battles? When you feel like you have to drag yourself through the motions and just can’t find your groove? Poor sleep, again, may be to blame. When you don’t sleep enough, your body isn’t able to properly refresh its stock of neurotransmitters (chemicals that help your brain communicate with the rest of your body). That means you’re more likely to have slower reaction time and less energy and endurance—making it really hard to have a good workout.

Sleep also plays a huge role in your mood. If you’re feeling down in the dumps or moody, it could always have to do with trouble at work or home, but it could also have a lot to do with your lack of quality sleep.

Listen, I could go on and on about what a lack of sleep does to your body and brain. The point is: You need to sleep. And that sleep needs to be of the highest quality possible.

A few things I like to do to set myself up for the best sleep possible are:

  • Turning off electronics at least an hour before bed (no phones or screens of any kind!)
  • Writing in a journal to release any thoughts swirling around in my head
  • Taking an Epsom salt bath to ease soreness and relax
  • Meditating
  • Making sure my bedroom is nice and cool

3. Hydration

Yes, good ole H20! Water helps transport nutrients and oxygen to and from your body’s cells, which is crucial for cellular growth and repair. It also helps your liver and kidneys function, which is crucial for helping to remove toxins from your body, and helps regulate your appetite.

And from a pure recovery standpoint, proper hydration ensures your lymphatic system, a vital part of your immune system, is working properly which—you guessed it—speeds up the recovery process.

Aim to drink half your body weight in ounces of water every day. It’s that simple! (So if you weigh 200 pounds, that’s 100 ounces of water.) If you hate plain water, throw some fruit and herbs in there. I like watermelon and basil, lemon and mint, or cucumber and rosemary.

3. Foam Rolling and Stretching

Both of these activities are great ways to maintain your mobility and boost blood flow throughout your body.

Better blood flow means more nutrient-rich blood and oxygen get to your muscles to help them repair and build up stronger, while good mobility helps you achieve a full range of motion in your exercises. And the more you’re able to work through a full range of motion, the more tension you’re able to put on your muscles and the better results you’ll get from your workouts. Plus, improved mobility helps prevent injury.

Think about your quads, the big muscles on the front of your thighs that run from your hip to your knee: When your muscles are tight from your workouts or any other movement, they start to put tension on your joints. What starts as subtle joint pain can grow and can end in injury.

But by spending a little time foam rolling and stretching, you’ll enhance your mobility and prepare your muscles for challenging workouts! That’s why I’ve got you stretching and foam rolling twice a week during the first two weeks of your challenge. With just 10 minutes a day, you can really make a difference. (Check out your Weeks 1-2 Workout Schedule for a refresher on what you should be doing!)

Related: Get your own foam roller to prioritize recovery at home. 

4. Eating Clean

You know I’m all about eating nutrient-rich foods—and you should be too, considering they benefit the body in all sorts of ways, including providing important antioxidants and helping to ward off inflammation. A whole foods-based diet is your best way to set the stage for better recovery on a cellular level.

Nutrition is one of the most overly-complicated things on the planet, but I promise you—PROMISE YOU—that it can be simple. You don’t need a scale to weigh your food (or yourself!) or an app to calculate your macronutrients. You just need a simple strategy. And in case you need a reminder, here it is:

Focus on eating five times per day. Three meals and two snacks. (I’ve found over the years that this strategy helps people lose weight and, more importantly, keep it off).

When you’re filling your plate, keep the principles from your I shared in that first article in mind. Every meal should consist of protein and veggies—those are your two must-haves. Protein is the building block of muscle and vegetables provide you with the micronutrients your body needs to function at its best.

There will be no measuring of that food or counting calories. Just follow the eyeball portion guide in that first article and you can finally break free from the mind-trap of dieting.

The protocol you’re using throughout this eight-week program is the exact strategy I use with A-list actors, athletes, moms, and everyone in between.

Just follow these principles and listen to your body.