January 5


Recovering after a hard gym session | FIFO Workout Advice

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Over the last several years, tough high-intensity workouts have been #trending. Certainly, up at site, I see groups of guys and girls getting together to tackle a hard fitness session. The trouble is, working FIFO can slightly compromise your recovery after a tough workout session. So what can FIFO workers do to maximise their chances of a good recovery? Below, we'll look at 4 key ways to help your body adapt to a tough workout regime while you're on site.


Tough gym sessions remain popular, so a good workout recovery strategy is vital

Whether they're WOD-style with a barbell, bodyweight HIIT sessions, or a circuit gym session, tough workouts can take a toll on your body. But that's why we do them, right?

Training at high intensity can bring several benefits to your body. Often, they're time-efficient too. I believe that's why many FIFO workers choose this style of training while away at site. They can get a whole body workout done in a short space of time.

Further to the physical benefits, there's the mental aspect of training tough too. After a particularly gruelling gym session, there's nothing better than the feeling afterwards.

The emotion of it being over, and knowing you completed it.

Your heart rate is high, sweat pours from your body and the endorphin levels are peaking.

You feel great.

some of the world's top athletes will have a sleep target of between 9 and 10 hours per night

To remain feeling our best though, and to make sure we can continually progress in the gym, we should pay attention to how we recover after our workouts.

A good workout recovery strategy will help us to get back up and go again. It'll allow us to get our body moving efficiently, ready for the next challenge it faces on the other side of the gym doo.

Sleep is the #1 best workout recovery tool

If you can do nothing else to improve your health and wellbeing, make sure you sleep well.

Sleeping poorly slows down our body's recovery process. Your muscles, joints and tissues won't recuperate as well without a good night's sleep. As a result, you'll feel sluggish, sore and move poorly during your next gym session.

Single Bed at a FIFO remote mine site in the Pilbara

Likewise, for top physical and mental performance, adequate sleep is a necessity.

For example, some of the world's top athletes will have a sleep target of between 9 and 10 hours per night.

I don't think I've met any FIFO worker who gets that much sleep at site.

But that doesn't mean we shouldn't look to improve our sleep health as far as possible.

We can take steps to improve both the quality and duration of whatever sleep we do manage. In doing so, we'll give our body the best chance to recover from whichever workout we choose to throw at it.

Tips for FIFO Workers to Improve Their Sleep

Firstly, routine is important. Our body LOVES routine. It helps set patterns and works in conjunction with our circadian rhythm.

Where possible, aim to go to bed at the same time each night. Additionally, set your alarm to get up at the same time each day. Establishing a good sleep routine like this will go a long way to help your body get the most from its sleep time.

Next, you want to make sure your bedroom isn't too bright. Turn out ALL the lights. If you leave your phone on charge, turn it face downs so notifications don't wake you when the screen brightens up the room. Some FIFO workers even put duct tape over the power light on their TV and air-con units too. If your donga curtains aren't doing the job, you can stick some aluminium foil on the inside of the windows to completely block out light. It's super easy - just wet the window and place the foil over and it will stick.

Generally speaking, body temperature drops when we're asleep. To help mimic this, we want our room to be cool. Set your temperature control to 21 degrees or below. If you're too hot, it will take a lot longer for your body to drift off to sleep.

In the lead up to bedtime, we want to limit our intake of stimulants. This includes caffeine and sugar. We want our brains to wind down and start to prepare for going to sleep. High sugar snacks and drinks disrupt this process.

Linked with the earlier point of keeping the room dark, we want to limit screen time too. Best practice is to avoid using your phone or other electronic devices for 30 minutes before you go to bed. Longer is likely better.

How FIFO Workers can Optimise Sleep to Improve Workout Recovery

Hydration is key to optimal workout recovery

You've likely had it drilled into you at site. There are notices everywhere regarding the importance of staying hydrated.

Safety aside, maintaining good hydration is critical for your body to adapt and recover from strenuous workouts.

High-intensity exercise creates a lot of metabolic by-products in your muscles and tissues. You might like to think of these by-products as 'toxins.' Water plays an important part in helping your body flush these toxins out.

Likewise, improved hydration levels make it easier for your body to get vital nutrients to the cells that need them. For optimal workout recovery, we want to make conditions as simple as possible for your body to do what it needs to do.

Extra water helps with that.

Hydration is super important for effective workout recovery

Additionally, your hydration levels play a part in thermoregulation. That is, reducing your body temperature. The better hydrated we are, the easier it is for our body to cool itself back down and recover after a tough workout.

Finally, and often forgotten, well-hydrated muscles are more supple and pliable. By ensuring we have good hydration levels, we can help to relieve some muscle tension and stiffness often associated with exercise.

If we don't drink enough after exercising, your body is going to struggle. Hard training breaks down muscle tissue - dehydration will slow down the rebuild and repair process.

A good mobility routine will help you recover from tough gym workouts at FIFO sites

Mobility - having strength and control over the full range of motion for your joints.

It's an important aspect of living and moving well.

We want our joints to remain healthy, our muscles supple and our central nervous system to remain in control of all of the above.

Being consistent with our mobility routine is a great way to lengthen our muscles and improve flexibility.

The benefits don't stop there though. Working on our mobility can also help to reduce soreness as well as remove toxins from spent muscles.

There are several apps available to help you plan and put together a routine. I even have a stretch routine put together as one of my online workouts.

Use the pool at your FIFO mine site to help you recover after a tough workout

Often overlooked, submerging yourself in water is a great option for moving a stiff and sore body.

Most FIFO mine sites I've been to have a pool. If you're based near a remote town, you might look into what recreational facilities they have there.

Swimming pool at a FIFO mine site can help recover after a gym workout

Use it to your advantage.

Swimming reduces impact on your joints since the water supports a lot of your body weight. The benefit to your workout recovery is that you can get your body moving, improving blood flow, without having to work too strenuously.

You don't even necessarily have to swim to get the benefits. You can just go for a walk through the water, working against the natural resistance.

Once you've been moving, you can even try some easy stretches to work on your mobility, killing two birds with one stone!

Paul Stokes Perth Personal Trainer Sports Nutritionist Group Fitness Instructor Massage Therapist

About the author

Paul Stokes

Paul Stokes BSc (Hons) is a Certified Personal Trainer, Accredited Sports Nutritionist, qualified Exercise to Music Instructor, Precision Nutrition coach, Massage Therapist and teaches 8 of the Les Mills Group Exercise programs.

He currently works in the Oil & Gas industry as a Wellness Coach, imparting his vast knowledge and experience to improve the quality of life of several hundred offshore workers.

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