young female athlete standing on the pavement, drinking water and resting after exercising
young female athlete standing on the pavement, drinking water and resting after exercising

Your Recovery Toolkit

We see it time and time again, athletes and fitness enthusiasts training like champions, but neglecting their recovery. A sure-fire way to compromise your training gains if you ask me. But I get it, when you are not a professional athlete, it can be hard enough to fit in exercise in the first place when you have little free time from family, work, and life. So, to then fit in adequate recovery time where in an ideal world you would rest completely is almost impossible.

Work smarter, not harder is a phrase that springs to mind right about now and that’s why having a recovery ‘toolkit’ might just be the answer. And no, I am not talking about carrying a toolbox full of hammers and screwdrivers to literally knock your legs back into shape after a hard workout. That we would not recommend!

Instead, what we are talking about is a set of processes and ‘tools’ that are backed by science, and accessible to pretty much everyone and that you can turn to even when you have little time to help your body recover faster, maximise adaptation from training, as well as improve injury prevention, and your overall health and well-being too.



Structured Training

Ice Baths/Saunas



Massage & Compression


Perhaps the single most accessible and often underappreciated recovery tool in your toolkit…a good night’s sleep. Sleep is the single most fundamental foundation to our short- and long-term health span and lifespan and getting a good night's sleep is essential for your physical and mental health & wellbeing.

When you sleep, your body has a chance to rest and repair itself; and that’s your body AND mind. During sleep, your body will do its best work resynthesising muscle tissue and your brain gets to work consolidating memories, learning, and processing emotions too!

When looking at ways to optimise your sleep, keep in mind this fundamental ‘algorithm’ for effective sleep:

Quality – pay attention to your sleep hygiene to maximise the quality and efficiency of your sleep. Bright lights and caffeine too close to bedtime won’t necessarily stop you from getting to sleep, but they will significantly impair the quality of your sleep, which means that for the 8 hours you might be in bed for example, I bet you that a lot of that won’t be as restorative as you would like.

Quantity – it is generally recommended that adults aim to achieve 7-9 hours of sleep – note that it isn’t time in bed as these are two different things. So, depending on how efficient you are with your sleep, your actual bedtime need might be very different.

Regularity – maintaining a consistent sleep-wake cycle is another hallmark of sleep success as this plays directly into your circadian rhythm. But go easy on yourself and give yourself a little bit of leeway either side; perhaps 30 minutes each way.

Timing – wait, didn’t we go through this already?! Technically no, we haven’t. When we talk about timing, we’re talking about exactly when in a 24-hour cycle you hit the pillow and get those precious zzz’s. We all have our own unique chronotype when it comes to sleep. Some of us are early birds, others night owls and paying close attention to which one you are is an important step to getting efficient sleep.

Structured Training

It’s all about planning! The first step to setting yourself up for success is by giving yourself the time to train, and the time to rest. There is such thing as a law of diminishing returns when it comes to exercise. When you cross a certain point, you gain very little for the extra effort, and what you might find is that over time you will end up compromising your ability to recover effectively from any of the high-quality training that you do.

The same principle stands for the intensity of your training. If you are constantly training hard, your body and mind will not be able to recover effectively, and it becomes a vicious cycle of fatigue and increased risk of injury and or illness.

Understanding how much time you have available to train, is very different to aspiring to achieve an amount of training that someone else might be able to achieve or recommends to you for X improvement. Sometimes less is more as it can free up time to concentrate on other tools, which we will discuss right now.

Ice Baths & Saunas

Cold & Heat Exposure are all the rage right now. Hands up who has head of Wim Hof 🙋🏻‍♂️ but amongst all the hype, is there some science behind it? Simple answer, yes! But there are some caveats.

Ice baths have been used for almost 50 years, partly because of their ability to reduce muscle soreness and inflammation and improve many biomarkers for health and longevity. However, whilst the cold exposure can reduce inflammation, it may be counterintuitive to do so. Inflammation is an essential part of the adaptation process and so blunting this may limit the extent to which you adapt from your training.

If, however, you are in between multi day events and reducing muscle soreness is more important that adaptation, then 100% ice baths are a must. Studies also show that you only need 11 minutes per week of cold exposure to get all the benefits for your physical and mental health. Plus, it doesn’t need to be that cold either. Running your shower cold for a couple of minutes at the end each day is all you need to do, making it one of the most accessible and cost-effective tools after sleep.

Saunas as you might expect work by exposing you to heat instead of cold for a whole host of physiological benefits. From promoting heat acclimation and improving blood flow, saunas can help improve day to recovery from exercise, but also stimulate whole body adaptation to extremes of temperatures if that’s required.

The one big downside to saunas is of course the cost and accessibility in stark contrast to cold showers. If you are lucky enough to have access to a sauna, then that is great. If not, don’t worry, you can adequately heat acclimate (if you need to) by simply over layering for the activity you are doing. For example, if you are running on a treadmill indoors, instead of wearing a mesh T shirt, you could wear a jacket instead. But please do be careful and get supervision as training in the heat is extremely dangerous.


Often cited as the fourth discipline in multisports such as triathlon, there is no denying just how important nutrition is for our health, wellbeing, and performance. Fuelling correctly for both daily life and physical activity ensures your body has the energy and building blocks it needs to perform, recover, and repair, and to keep doing so day in day out.

Post-workout, aim to prioritise the intake of protein, carbohydrates, and some healthy fats. For active individuals, protein is usually recommended at anywhere between 1 and 2g of protein per kg of body weight per day and from as many high-quality sources as possible. This could be from real food such as meats, fish, or plant-based sources such as lentils or quinoa.

Protein contributes to the growth and maintenance of muscle mass and is an essential macronutrient for EVERYONE. And in case anyone tells you otherwise, taking a protein supplement of any kind won’t magically make you bulky.

Speaking of supplements, protein supplements such as whey are among the most well known and most researched out there with a whole host of benefits for muscle growth, strength, and repair. However, there is a new kid on the block, and it is called COLLAGEN.

Collagen supplements are fast becoming more well known and used by athletes and fitness enthusiasts in all sports and at all ability levels. Collagen is the primary structural protein in the human body and is essential for the health, function, and recovery of connective tissues such as ligaments, tendons, muscles, bones, and cartilage too.

As we age and engage in physical activity, we rapidly deplete and breakdown this collagen, which exposes us to greater risk of injuries, and no one wants that.

As a result, ingestible Bioactive Collagen Peptides® have been developed to not only replace what is lost, but also to kickstart your body’s own natural collagen production again. The net result is more collagen available to the body to facilitate recovery and repair, minimising time lost to injuries and keeping you active for longer.


This sits as a nice bolt on to the previous point on nutrition. As well as consuming adequate nutrients to facilitate energy production and muscle repair, it is just as important to rehydrate to recover the loss of fluids and electrolytes during physical activity. That’s right, we are not just sweating out water when we run! We lose vital minerals called ‘electrolytes’ which help with muscle function and fluid balance and maintaining adequate electrolyte content in our diet and drinks is another useful tool to have and is something that you can take with you on the go.


Massage & Compression

Now these last 2 are probably up there with some of the least accessible tools on this list, plus there is some variance in the scientific literature which leaves a rather confused outlook on the cost vs. benefit. But anyway, I digress…

Massages are easy to come by, and every practitioner has their ‘speciality’. But given that it is very hard to objectively study, there are many who suggest that massage is simply its own best placebo effect.

But no judgement here. Massages are an incredibly relaxing tool which many find almost meditative which in some cases can reduce pain and tightness, after exercise, as well as ‘warm up’ muscles before exercise due to the friction and blood flow. So, if massages are something that you find beneficial, keep going!

Compression garments started out in the medical world for those dealing with conditions that affect blood flow and they proved very effective. Whether they provide benefit for reducing muscle soreness etc. remains to be objectively seen for many of the same reasons as with massage.

The big problem is the variance between different types of garments and different manufacturers and materials too. Some compress too little, others too much, so getting the right size for you is important.


Your Recovery Toolkit

The above list is only a handful of tools and tricks that you can use to maximise your training and recovery, and the most important takeaway here will be to listen to your body, find what works for you and stick with the basics first before anything else.

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