JOHN McMAHON: Train hard but always recover harder

YOUR league season is well underway and as a GAA athlete you’ are trying to plan and structure your weekly training. But are you planning your recovery?

Just as hard as our bodies work during exercises in the gym or training on the pitch, players need to work equally as hard to help their bodies recover.

Below are some key tips to maximise your recovery.

Proper cool-down

This helps with recovery to reduce inflammation and muscle soreness. A cool-down should be completed after any weight training or training session.

Skipping a cool-down can lead to tight muscles and increased muscle soreness in the hours after your session.


Think of nutrition as fuel and the better quality of fuel you put into your body the better your body and mind performs.

– Post-workout nutrition: Players should be consuming protein and carbohydrates within 30 to 60 minutes of completing a training session.

– Drinking enough water. Even one per cent of dehydration can affect a person’s performance.


If you are putting in the hours training and eating right but only sleeping four or five hours a night, you are not going to see improvements in performance.

– Shutting off the lights one hour before bed.

– Limiting screens one hour before bed.

– Sleeping in a cool, dark room.

– Go to sleep and wake up the same times each day.

– Aim to get seven to nine hours of sleep per night.

Rest Days and active recovery

Rest and active recovery days are about doing things that your body needs. This could be anything from taking an extra nap, going to a yoga class, doing some stretching, going for an easy walk or bike outside or going for a swim.

Foam roll

Though some people will disagree, foam rolling is an important part of muscle recovery every day. This can and should be done as both part of the warm-up and cool-down, especially before jumping into training.

The areas are dependent on how the player feels and what they have coming up that day in the workout.

The ice bath

The ice bath is not for everyone, but it can help with muscle recovery, especially after tough workouts.

Utilising a cold tub is said to help flush the toxins from the body and reduce inflammation, fatigue, and muscle soreness. Start off with small durations in your ice tub and build up your tolerance.

There are so many methods of recovery but the ones I have highlighted above are some of the most common ways to get you started.

Train hard, recover harder.

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