Many people believe that the key to being at your best is training hard. Training consistently is incredibly important, but if you don’t listen to your body and give yourself a chance to recover between workouts, then your performance and results will suffer. However, there’s more to recovery than chilling out in front of the TV for three days. While your gym tote helps keep your workout life organized, to be at peak performance your recovery methods should be organized just as well. Here are ten choice muscle recovery tips, so you can hit the gym stronger, faster, and more refreshed than ever.
- 1. Get plenty of sleep.
- 2. Hydrate.
- 3. Eat protein before and after your workout.
- 4. Incorporate active recovery.
- 5. Consider taking a magnesium supplement.
- 6. Avoid overtraining.
- 7. Stretch every day.
- 8. Roll out sore muscles.
- 9. Wear compression clothing.
- 10. Take a cold bath.
- 5 Tips for Post-Workout Recovery
- 1. Drink Lots of Fluids and Hydrate
- 2. Get a Good Night’s Sleep
- 3. Focus on Your Protein Intake
- 4. Plan Your Rest Days Accordingly
- 5. Take Cold Baths When Needed
- The Bottom Line
- 10 Best Muscle Recovery Techniques for Athletes
- Let Your Body Do The Talking: with Anwar Ravjani
- What’s the best way to speed up recovery of sore muscles?
- How much time is appropriate for recovering from weight training? How about long distance running?
- What types of factors inhibit recovery?
- Are there any specific foods that help assist recovery?
- What do you do when you’re overtrained and fatigued for several days in a row?
- How to Boost Your Muscle Recovery in 5 Simple Steps
- 1. Eat enough calories.
- 2. Eat enough protein.
- 3. Eat enough carbohydrate.
- 4. Get ~8 hours of quality sleep every night.
- 5. Take the right supplements.
- Want to Learn More About How to Gain Muscle and Strength Faster?
- The Bottom Line on Boosting Muscle Recovery
- Muscle Recovery Don’ts
- Muscle Recovery Do’s
- Muscle Strain Treatment Self-Care at Home
- What to know about muscle strain
- Stem Cells Heal Damaged Muscle, Doing What Surgery Can’t
- Your Post-Workout Recovery Guide
- High-intensity training
- Resistance and circuit training
- Marathon training
1. Get plenty of sleep.
One of the simplest yet most effective muscle recovery tips is simply to get a good night’s sleep. Contrary to popular belief, you can’t “catch up on” sleep. Your body just doesn’t work that way. You need to get between 7-8 hours of sleep each night. We recommend thinking of sleep as part of your workout and scheduling it just like you would a training session.
Proper hydration makes every function of the human body more efficient. Drinking water during and after your workout helps rid your body of waste products and prevents dehydration. Dehydrated muscles are more likely to be injured and often can result in painful cramps and spasms.
3. Eat protein before and after your workout.
Protein is the building block of muscle tissue, and when you’re in the recovery phase of your workout you’ll need a lot of it. Keeping your body properly fueled can be challenging, but with a gym backpack from 6 Pack Fitness you can always have the protein you need close at hand.
4. Incorporate active recovery.
By simply adding in a few light resistance exercises to the end of your workout you can increase blood flow and nutrients to your muscles after a training session. Active recovery also helps remove waste products, like lactic acid, that can hinder muscle recovery. Tips we recommend include adding low intensity exercises like walking, yoga, and swimming.
5. Consider taking a magnesium supplement.
Low levels of magnesium in the body can cause muscle tension, cramping, and spasms. Magnesium helps speed up recovery by promoting proper muscle and nerve function and boosting your body’s ability to synthesize the proteins that make your muscles grow.
6. Avoid overtraining.
If you spend the majority of your week lifting weights or performing other high intensity exercises, it’s important that you supplement your workout with time off. The muscle recovery phase after a workout is when your body rebuilds and re-energizes your muscles. Designing a smart workout routine not only improves your recovery efforts, but also helps you reach your overall fitness goals.
7. Stretch every day.
One of the best muscle recovery tips that you can follow every time, which was also help prevent future injuries, is stretching. As you exercise your muscles tighten up. Stretching helps you relax muscle tension and decrease soreness the next day.
8. Roll out sore muscles.
When it comes to muscle recovery tips, foam rollers can be a great help. Using them helps relax muscle tension, break up scar tissue and knots, increase blood flow, and reduce inflammation. We recommend running the roller over your sore muscle groups in the morning when you wake up, before you got to bed, and before your workout (if you have the time).
9. Wear compression clothing.
While compression clothing can be worn during your workout to prevent chafing and rashes, its real benefits start post-exercise. These form-fitting garments relieve pain from muscles stiffness and soreness, and can help reduce the time taken for muscles to repair themselves.
10. Take a cold bath.
Tough workouts don’t have to result in aching muscles. Immersing yourself in cold water immediately after an intense workout session reduces muscle inflammation and soreness. This allows you to return to peak performance faster and lowers your likelihood of missing your next training session. Spending time focusing on rest and recovery can pay huge dividends beyond additional training time. It can actually improve your performance and help you achieve your fitness goals faster. Do you use different recovery methods to stay at the top of your game? Tell us about your favorite muscle recovery tips in the comments below!
Image Source: Pexels.com
Working out regularly and intensively is the key to a chiseled body and peak physical fitness. However, if you want to get into the best possible shape and avoid injuries, allowing your muscles some time to recover is essential. With the right approach, you will be able to maximize the results of this recovery time and improve your figure in no time.
5 Tips for Post-Workout Recovery
In this article, we will discuss five tips to speed up and enhance the effects of your post-workout recovery. Whether you work out at home after you found out which cross trainer best suits your needs or at a gym with a personal trainer, it is important to give yourself a few minutes afterward. Your muscles need the time to rest and to adjust after intense training.
1. Drink Lots of Fluids and Hydrate
Any fitness enthusiast knows the importance of proper hydration prior, during, and following an intensive dose of physical activity. It is important to drink lots of fluids during all those crucial times if you want to avoid muscle fatigue, damage, and other complications. Unfortunately, many gym-goers focus on drinking water before their routine and forget to do it afterward as well. Others have the bad habit of only drinking water when they feel thirsty, which is not recommended.
To diminish the risk of tears, ruptures, and other sports-related injuries, always drink plenty of water after your training. If you are a fan of sports drinks enhanced with electrolytes or any other kind of post-exercise recovery drinks, popping open a Gatorade may help you as well. One study even found that chocolate milk is also a good post-workout recovery drink. Nevertheless, keep that in mind that at the end of the day, there’s nothing more beneficial than plain H2O.
2. Get a Good Night’s Sleep
It’s no secret that getting plenty of rest is the key to both mental and physical health. But did you know that the lack of it can greatly hinder not only the course of your muscular recovery but also your overall athletic performance? According to a 2008 study, sleep deprivation is detrimental to recuperation as it inhibits the body’s natural processes.
Therefore, getting eight hours of shut-eye per night may be important when you want to avoid any training-related complications. If your schedule allows for it, try to sneak in a few afternoon snoozes during the week as well. Waiting two hours after a workout and then taking a quick 20-minute power nap not only restores the muscles, but it also won’t inhibit your nocturnal slumber.
Related story: What Are the Benefits of Power Naps?
3. Focus on Your Protein Intake
Protein is the number one muscle repairing nutrient you can incorporate in your diet. Instead of adding supplements to your smoothies, focus on getting your daily intake of protein from whole foods such as eggs, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and lean cuts of meat. These versatile ingredients make great snacks or full meals that will help with your recovery.
It is essential to consume a snack that is rich in protein before bed so that your muscles repair over time. The essential amino acids that are metabolized from this macronutrient not only bulk up your brawn, but also diminish the sensation of soreness you would otherwise get the next day. Don’t forget about your pre- and post-workout protein intake either. It is equally important.
4. Plan Your Rest Days Accordingly
When it comes to rest days, the general rule is to maintain a healthy gap of 48 hours between workouts if you are a fan of more physically demanding routines. Of course, this is not a universal rule, but rather a guideline that you can abide by or tailor to suit your personal needs and preferences.
Never forget about stretching, especially during recovery days. In time, this habit will help with your muscle recovery and won’t be a burden any longer.
Depending on your age and skill level, you might require less time to rest or more. If you find yourself taking longer pauses, try to squeeze in a couple of active recovery days each week. These consist of light exercises, such as yoga or tai chi so that you don’t lose track of your fitness goals while relaxing and recharging your batteries at the same time. However, if you feel an injury coming on, it would be the best to listen to your body and take some days off.
5. Take Cold Baths When Needed
Finally, when you find that the pent-up muscular tension and fatigue are becoming too hard to handle, science tells you to try a cold bath. Although the thought of immersing your aching body in ice water after an intense workout might seem scary, this will actually help reduce soreness and inflammation for a period of 24 to 48 hours. Ice will also act as an anesthetic that will numb the affected area and make the recovery a lot easier.
Another remedy for sore post-workout areas is to mix the juice from three lemons with two tablespoons of honey and microwave that concoction for about 30 seconds. Then, take a clean towel, dip it into the mixture, and apply it to the areas that you feel sore after a difficult workout. Because of lemon’s anti-inflammatory properties, this unusual remedy will help you with your muscle recovery.
The Bottom Line
To naturally enhance your muscles’ recovery period, stay hydrated, stretch frequently, and always be well-rested. Mind what you eat so that you don’t forget about protein, as you can’t really have too much of it during this crucial time. Tailor your off days according to your personal needs and preferences, and don’t be afraid to take a dip into cold water when you pushed yourself over the edge with the workout. With the right approach, you will reach your fitness goals sooner than expected.
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10 Best Muscle Recovery Techniques for Athletes
Tools like the Marc Pro and Marc Pro Plus take advantage of natural biology to give athletes a recovery boost. These products work through electrical muscle stimulation, which elicits a muscle contraction through the use of a gentle electric pulse. This muscle contraction helps to improve the way nutrients are delivered into recovering muscles, and waste from the recovery process is delivered out of the muscles. The Marc Pro Plus is also a valuable pain relief tool; the contractions can help improve the flow of blood into a muscle that is stiff or sore, which allows the muscles to relax and recover faster.
Whether you are dealing with pain or simply want to help improve your recovery time between workouts, electrical muscle stimulation is one of the best options available. Electrical muscle stimulation is especially valuable as one of the best muscle recovery techniques for athletes because it is completely customizable. Adjusting the intensity levels on the Marc Pro and Marc Pro Plus devices, you can control exactly how strong the impulses are so that you get the stimulation that works best for your body.
Although recovery might not be the most exciting part of what an athlete does, it is still a critical element of making sure that the body is in sufficient shape to compete and train properly. Without effective recovery, muscle growth and athletic performance will both be limited. In the worst situations, this may even lead to a muscle strain or injury. Following these muscle recovery techniques for athletes will help you do a better job of recovering, which will minimize your downtime so that you can devote more of your time to getting better at your chosen sport.
Let Your Body Do The Talking: with Anwar Ravjani
Article by Somatic Bodyworker & Holistic Therapist Anwar Ravjani
Holistic therapist Anwar Ravjani has trained in many massage styles and complementary therapies including homeopathy, acupuncture, NLP, counselling and energy healing work such as Reiki. His work is now an integration of all these different threads, working with what the body holds and how it holds it. As he explains here, somatic bodywork is essentially about allowing someone to feel supported and safe, so that the body can let go of patterns of holding which may be the source of pain and discomfort.
‘Our bodies tend to mould themselves around our emotional experience so that we develop habits of posture and areas of physical tension and guarding which reflect our perception of reality. In fact, if we can learn to listen, our body relays information to us about how we feel in a constant information loop.
Much of the time it’s very subtle but when our feelings are more intense we may experience them as a tightness in our abdomen or a churning in our stomach; our lower back may also feel taut and vulnerable. Such sensations are often linked to stress and overwhelm and are our body’s way of asking us to give our feelings acknowledgment and support.
When we have a healthy awareness of the connection between our body and emotions we’re able to adjust to experiences; we can self soothe and move easily back into balance. However, the price of chronic stress is often a disconnection of our thoughts from our feelings. Because we’re programmed to survive we may not notice stress levels building. If we integrate stress often enough it begins to feel ‘normal’ and we effectively fall out of relationship with our body.
Once stress becomes your default setting you have to consciously re-learn how to regulate it. This requires a return to awareness which is essentially a mindfulness practice. The question needs to be posed directly to your body, not to your mind. In other words you need to ask yourself not ‘how do I think I’m feeling in my body’ but ‘how am I feeling in my body’. One is an actual physical experience and the other is an idea.
As you get used to noticing the language that your body uses to communicate with you, you can listen and respond. This may mean changing what you’re doing so that you can support your emotional needs. For example you may notice that before you go into feelings of overwhelm you habitually hunch your shoulders and shallow breathe. Simply noticing those physical signals will prompt you to take a deep breath and adjust your posture. This allows you to regain space and feel safe, thus bringing down your stress levels.
Sometimes one conscious breath can be enough to bring you back into a true relationship with the present moment as it is, rather than how you habitually perceive it to be. A new perspective can, for example, transform your critical partner into a stressed human being whom you can reason with or your impossible workload becomes something you can delegate.
As you increase your body awareness you are able to distinguish between a holding pattern which is so habitual it feels like the real you, and letting go of holding, which, ironically, can be so unfamiliar that it feels like a threat. The thing about habits is that, whether they are good or bad for us, they make us feel safe.
The work of transformation and change is done by noticing the transition between a familiar learned pattern of reacting and a more relaxed way of being in the body. By physically reprogramming and nurturing a feeling of safety you’ll know when you’ve moved away from that peaceful secure state. You can check in by simply taking a deep breath and noticing your feelings. Once you get into the habit of noticing you can trust your feelings more and make conscious choices rather than being on auto pilot and reacting blindly.’
Body awareness exercise
• Take a good 10 mins every day for a week to make contact with yourself.
• Touch your body part by part. Start by holding your own hands saying “Í love my hands”, then your forearms, saying “I love my forearms” then your upper arms, shoulders, head, neck and face.
• Make contact with your whole body and just notice what comes up for you.
• What does it feel like? You might notice that connecting to different parts of your body and showing appreciation brings up different emotions. Some parts may not bring up any feelings, there might just be a sense of emptiness, other areas might feel deeply nurturing as if you are being held by a lover.
• Simply do the exercise and notice how you feel without judging it and see what changes. It’s by acknowledging your reality as it is, rather than an idea about how it is, that you can start a real grounded relationship with your body. It’s the sensations you feel that allow you become conscious of who you really are.
My Hoffman Story
My experience of the Hoffman Process was radical. My journey into therapy and bodywork was initially driven purely by my own need to heal and to understand who I am and why I am like I am. In the beginning I was hooked on an idea of achieving personal transcendence and liberation by discarding my history. I wanted to heal my emotionally wounded self and to be free of it. What I learned on the Process is that only through being able to stand my ground with my past and not run, and not hide could I be present with who I am now.
Over the course of the week I identified the patterns that I’d learned. I began to see what overwhelmed me and shut down my feelings. The ebbing and flowing between taking a risk and coming back to safety made me test the edges of what I allowed myself. Today I can see that there’s no immediate threat in my life. The key to my freedom was actually looking at my wounds and acknowledging them as wounds rather than a history that I needed to bury or deny. The love I didn’t get, the safety and protection I didn’t feel was the drama that I kept playing out in my life, as Shakespeare said ‘ the world is a stage and all of us merely players‘…I was playing out my wounds again, and again, projecting them on all my relationships.
The Hoffman Process was able to hold my hand and show me clearly what wounds I was carrying, what unconscious belief system I had set on auto repeat, replaying it time and again in my life and relationships. It allowed me to see my parents in a clean way, to wipe the grime off the looking glass and to see them for who they are rather than who I wanted them to be. Now I can have an honest relationship with them and give myself what they could not give me. I can see who they are, I can see their history, their wounds and their failings without going into an emotional over-reaction and I have enough self awareness to know when I’m responding from a place of historical wounds, so that I can make a different choice. Anwar is based in London where he offers a wide range of healing and relaxation techniques. To find out more visit his website at: www.embodimentworks.co.uk
Going to the gym and not progressing on your lifts or improving your times can get frustrating. If you’re the type that grinds away and works out hard, day in and day out, you won’t progress if you take rest and recovery lightly.
What’s the best way to speed up recovery of sore muscles?
Surprisingly, there are no definitive ways to speed up recovery of sore muscles that are supported by research. There are, however, a handful of treatments, which may help alleviate the feeling of soreness:
1) Rest or active recovery – Getting plenty of sleep and resting your body may be the most effective treatment. In addition, active recovery, which is light exercise during the recovery phase can stimulate blood flow to the muscles to help reduce muscle pain. Active recovery can include swimming, or a light jog.
2) Hydration – Drinking plenty of water can help flush out toxins from your body and prevent dehydration, which can make muscle soreness even more painful. While there is no consensus on how much water you should drink, somewhere around 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water per day is a good starting point.
3) Pre-workout & post-workout nutrition – Consuming a 2:1 ratio of carbs to protein either before, or after a workout, or both, may help reduce the severity of muscle soreness.
4) Topical creams – creams like Ben Gay and IcyHot provide the perception of pain relief, but have no effects on the underlying muscle.
5) NSAIDS – nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Advil and Alleve can help relieve the discomfort of muscle soreness. It’s not advisable to use NSAIDS on a consistent basis, but rather for an acute bout of soreness.
Other treatments include ice, cold baths, Epsom salt baths, massage and gentle stretching, but the effectiveness of these methods for speeding up recovery is questionable.
How much time is appropriate for recovering from weight training? How about long distance running?
A: The amount of recovery you need from exercise depends on a variety of factors including (1) your fitness level, (2) the volume & intensity of exercise, (3) familiarity of the exercise. For example, if you are in great shape and complete 2 sets of bench press with light weight, your chest probably won’t be sore at all the next day and you could workout again without any issues. If you add more volume (sets & reps) and intensity (weight) such as four chest exercises for 12 sets with heavier weight and use unfamiliar movements, then it’s possible your chest may be very sore not only the next day, but for several days. Finally, it also depends on the metabolic intensity of the workouts. If you do heavy squats and deadlifts on Monday, it’s probably a good idea to hold off on completing the same exercises for a few days because of how much they tax your central nervous system.
The same variables apply to running where fitness level is particularly important. For example, some elite marathoners run 100+ miles per week and need almost no rest between runs. On the other hand, a weekend warrior may attempt to run 20 miles in a week, or change up the stimulus with hill running, which could create intense soreness and require longer recovery times.
What types of factors inhibit recovery?
The 3 biggest factors that inhibit recovery include:
1) Lack of sleep – if you are chronically sleep deprived, the muscle soreness will likely be more painful and may take more time to heal.
2) Lack of proper nutrition – If you are not adequately hydrated, or deficient in potassium, or are not eating enough protein, pain from muscle soreness may be more intense.
3) Overtraining – If you continue working out intensely without sufficient rest, muscle soreness may get worse.
The best way to avoid very sore muscles and improve recovery is to use a progressive exercise program where workouts become harder at a measured pace over time.
Are there any specific foods that help assist recovery?
There are a handful of foods that may help assist recovery:
1) Foods high in potassium – potassium is a mineral that is crucial to heart function and muscle contraction. Those who have low potassium levels may experience muscle soreness and cramping. Foods with high potassium levels include bananas, oranges, melons, raisins, and potatoes.
2) High-protein foods – protein is the building block of muscle, so foods that are high in protein may help repair sore muscles. High protein foods include meat, eggs, and dairy.
3) Pineapple – this tropical fruit is high in the enzyme bromelain, which is a natural anti-inflammatory that can help treat strains, sprains, and bruises.
4) Cherries – some studies show that cherries may be as effective as anti-inflammatory medications. Cherries contain anthocyanins, which are antioxidants which reduce inflammation.
5) Fish oil – high in Omega 3 fatty acids, fish oil may help reduce inflammation in joints and muscles.
What do you do when you’re overtrained and fatigued for several days in a row?
Overtraining occurs when you perform more training—both in and out of the gym—than your body can recover from. For a newbie, overtraining can happen quickly, whereas for an experienced athlete, it may take weeks of unusually difficult exercise to set in.
There are a number of overtraining to watch out for including elevated heart rate, decreased strength, lack of motivation, and chronic soreness in your joints.
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How to Boost Your Muscle Recovery in 5 Simple Steps
“Muscles don’t grow in the gym.”
I’m sure you’ve heard that old bodybuilding adage before.
Well, there’s truth in it.
Weightlifting alone doesn’t make your muscles bigger and stronger. That’s what happens after the workouts.
That’s why the work that your body does to repair the stress and damage caused by training is just as important as the work you do in the gym to stress and damage your muscles.
The bottom line is if you’re not fully recovering from your workouts, you’re going to gain muscle and strength slower than you should.
This goes beyond muscle soreness, too.
The presence or absence of soreness is a factor to consider, but it’s not the acid test of post-workout recovery. Just because you’re not sore doesn’t mean your body is ready for another hard workout (and, on the flip side, just because a muscle group is sore doesn’t mean it can’t be trained again).
You see, heavy weightlifting places a lot of stress on the body that goes beyond muscle damage. It impacts your joints, glycogen stores, and nervous and endocrine systems, and it leaves a residue of systemic fatigue and inflammation that accumulates over time.
Your body does an excellent job of setting all this right, though, if you give it what it needs, which boils down these five steps:
- Eat enough calories
- Eat enough protein
- Eat enough carbohydrate
- Get ~8 hours of quality sleep every night
- Take the right supplements
Let’s dive in and learn how to do each correctly.
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1. Eat enough calories.
Most people think that calories only count when you’re talking weight loss.
What they don’t realize, though, is calories are what fuel every process in your body, and the processes related to muscle growth are metabolically expensive.
If you don’t eat enough, your body can’t do many things as efficiently, including everything it needs to do to recover from your workouts.
For example, research shows that when you’re in a calorie deficit (regularly eating fewer calories than you’re burning), your body’s ability to repair and grow muscle tissue is impaired.
This is why workouts take a bigger toll on you when you’re dieting, and why you have to accept slow or no muscle gain when you’re focusing on losing fat.
Thus, if you want to maximize muscle recovery, then you need to make sure you aren’t in a calorie deficit.
The best way to do this is to deliberately eat a bit more calories than you’re burning every day (be in a calorie surplus). This ensures that your body has all the energy it needs to push hard in the gym and fully recover from your workouts.
Want to know more about figuring out how many calories you should be eating? Check out this article.
2. Eat enough protein.
Protein is the single most important macronutrient for muscle recovery.
The reason for this is simple:
Resistance training damages muscle tissue, and protein is required to repair that damage and grow muscles bigger and stronger so they can better deal with such stresses in the future.
That’s why research shows that people who lift weights regularly need to eat about twice as much protein as sedentary folk to keep up with their body’s demands.
This isn’t exactly news to many people, but what they don’t know is just how much protein they should be eating when they want to gain muscle and strength.
Well, a good rule of thumb is 0.8 to 1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day, with the lower end suitable to those eating at maintenance or in a calorie surplus, and the higher end suitable to those in a calorie deficit.
Want to know more about how much protein you should be eating? Check out this article.
3. Eat enough carbohydrate.
I’m no fan of low-carb dieting for us fitness folk, and for several reasons.
One of the substances that carbs are converted to in the body is glycogen, which is stored in the muscles and liver and is the primary source of fuel during intense exercise like weightlifting and high-intensity interval training.
When you restrict your carb intake, your muscle glycogen levels drop, and research shows that low glycogen stores inhibits genetic signaling related to post-workout muscle repair and growth.
In other words, a low-carb diet creates an environment in your body that’s less conducive to post-workout recovery.
Studies also show that when you’re exercising regularly, restricting your carbs raises your cortisol and lowers your testosterone levels, which further hampers your body’s ability to recover from your workouts.
This is why study after study has shown that athletes who eat low-carb diets recover slower from their workouts and gain less muscle and strength than athletes who eat more carbs.
It’s also worth mentioning that eating a low-carb diet will decrease your strength and muscle endurance, which makes it harder to progressively overload your muscles in the gym and thereby maximally stimulate muscle growth.
Now, in terms of how many carbs you should be eating to boost muscle recovery, the general rule is around 0.8 to 2.5 grams per pound of body weight.
As you can probably guess, the lower end is most suitable to when you’re restricting your calories for fat loss, and the higher end to when you’re in a calorie surplus for maximum muscle gain.
Want to know more about how many carbs you should be eating? Check out this article.
4. Get ~8 hours of quality sleep every night.
When it comes to muscle recovery, your sleep hygiene is just as important as your diet.
Much of what your body does to recuperate and rebuild happens when you sleep, which is why studies show that sleep deprivation directly inhibits muscle growth and can even cause muscle loss.
(And these effects become even more pronounced when you’re in a calorie deficit.)
Furthermore, research shows that even a single night of poor sleep can interfere with your performance in the gym, and two nights is enough to ruin it, and multiple studies have clearly demonstrated that athletes who get enough sleep perform the best.
The bottom line is if you’re going to get the most out of your training, then you need to get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep every night, and 8 to 9 hours is better.
If that’s a struggle for you, here are a few simple and scientifically proven strategies for getting better sleep:
- Avoid alcohol, nicotine and caffeine before bed
- Avoid computer screens and artificial light at least an hour before bed
- Maintain a healthy body composition
- Create a relaxing pre-sleep routine
- Keep your bedroom dark, quiet and cool
Want to know more about how to get the best sleep of your life? Check out this article.
5. Take the right supplements.
I saved this for last because it’s the least important.
If you don’t have your calories, protein, carbs, and sleep on point, no amount of pills or powders are going to fill that deficit.
If you do, however, then there are a few that can help you recover faster and better.
Creatine is a natural supplement that increases strength and muscle growth and reduces muscle damage and soreness.
Simply put, it’s the single most effective supplement that you can buy for safely boosting muscle recovery and growth.
Want to know which form of creatine is the best and why? Check out this article.
Carnitine is a substance comprised of the amino acids lysine and methionine, and it plays a vital role in the production of cellular energy.
Studies show that supplementing with L-carnitine L-tartrate (a form of carnitine combined with tartaric acid) reduces muscle damage and soreness after exercise and speeds up muscle recovery.
That’s why I included it in my post-workout recovery supplement RECHARGE.
As you now know, you have to eat quite a bit of protein every day to give your body what it needs to recover from your workouts.
That’s why protein powders are so popular in the fitness space–they make it really easy to hit your daily protein targets.
There’s also research that suggests that whey protein powder is a particularly good post-workout meal, which is why many people chug a protein shake after hitting the gym.
Want to know how to pick the right protein powder for you? Check out this article.
Fish oil provides your body with two essential fatty acids (EPA and DHA) that most people don’t get enough of through their diets alone.
These fatty acids play vital roles in many physiological processes in the body, which is why studies show that supplementing with fish oil can benefit your health and performance in many ways.
Two benefits of particular relevance here are reducing inflammation caused by exercise and other life stressors, and positively influencing the processes resulting in muscle growth.
Want to know more about how fish oil can benefit your health and performance? Check out this article.
When you lift weights, your muscles aren’t the only tissues that take a beating. Your joints get assaulted, too.
Everything we’ve talked about thus far will help your joints rebound faster and better, but if you want to give them even more help, then you need to check out my joint supplement FORTIFY.
It contains several compounds proven to increase joint health and performance, including type-2 collagen and curcumin, which work together reduce joint inflammation and speed up healing.
Want to Learn More About How to Gain Muscle and Strength Faster?
You just got a crash course in a hugely important element of gaining muscle: muscle recovery.
If you want to learn more, though, and particularly how to get the most muscle and strength gain from your workouts as possible, then you want to check out this article:
How to Create the Ultimate Muscle Building Workout
The Bottom Line on Boosting Muscle Recovery
If you want to build a great body, then you have to subject it to a lot of intense and strenuous workouts.
Everybody knows that.
You also have to make sure that your body can recover from those workouts, though, and be ready for each successive wave of training.
Well, if you follow the simple steps outlined above, you’ll recover better than ever before, and that will translate into faster gains than ever before.
Give them a try and see for yourself!
Today, I’m going to talk to you about the do’s and the don’ts of muscle recovery. Whether you’re trying to burn fat or build muscle, what you do in terms of exercise, diet and the time in between is crucial for how you burn fat and how you build muscle.
Muscle Recovery Don’ts
First, let’s start off with the don’ts. The No. 1 don’t in muscle recovery is don’t overtrain. Listen, your body needs rest to grow, but your muscles don’t grow when you’re exercising. They actually grow while you’re sleeping and resting and recovering. So don’t overtrain. You want to take off at least one day a week. For most people, you want to take off two days a week. Completely let your muscles rest.
The other big don’t is don’t consume a bunch of sugar and fast foods. If you’re addicted to sugar and consuming it regularly, it’s causing inflammation that’s going to slow down your recovery. The same thing goes for fast foods and hydrogenated oils, which both are going to trigger disease-causing inflammation. These are all foods to stop eating and will absolutely slow down your muscular recovery.
And the last don’t that you definitely don’t want to do or you want to skip? Don’t do a lot of isolated movements. If you are going to be building muscle, you want to do more of what we’re going to call compounding movements (see below).
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Muscle Recovery Do’s
Now, here are the big do’s you want to do as you approach proper muscle recovery. The No. 1 thing you want to do is consume anti-inflammatory foods. You want to load up and get plenty of omega-3 fatty acids found in things like wild-caught salmon; you also want to get fish oil benefits from a supplement, plus consume chia seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts and grass-fed beef. Simply, get more omega-3 foods in your diet.
The second thing you must do for muscle recovery is get plenty of protein and amino acids. So many people today are not getting enough protein foods. You want to measure your bodyweight in pounds, and typically if you’re a male trying to build muscle, get that many grams of protein a day and at least get half of your bodyweight in grams of protein a day if you’re trying to build muscle.
Right after a workout, you want to get some good quality collagen amino acids and whey protein for health and strength. That’s ideal for muscle recovery right when you’re done working out. So really track your protein and amino acid intake.
The other thing you absolutely must do to improve muscle recovery and build muscle is doing compound movements with large muscle groups.
If you’re going to the gym and just doing a bunch of bicep curls and calf raises, that’s not going to build the maximum amount of muscles. You want to work your largest muscle groups, which include your legs and your back, as well as your chest and shoulders.
But you want to use the larger muscle groups and do full compounding movements — so things like squats with overhead press combined. Those sorts of exercises stacked together, and pull-ups where you’re using your entire body. These are the best types of exercises because you’re working your largest muscle groups, which is going to release the most human growth hormone, build testosterone naturally and help you recover even faster as well.
And last but not the least, get more fruits and vegetables in your diet. It’s easy when you’re trying to build muscle to say, “I know I need protein.” You also need the vitamins and minerals in fruits and vegetables. Aim for five to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
If you follow these do’s and don’ts, you absolutely will see improvements in your muscle recovery.
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Muscle Strain Treatment Self-Care at Home
The amount of swelling or local bleeding into the muscle (from torn blood vessels) can best be managed early by applying ice packs and maintaining the strained muscle in a stretched position. Heat can be applied when the swelling has lessened. However, the early application of heat can increase swelling and pain.
Note: Ice or heat should not be applied to bare skin. Always use a protective covering such as a towel between the ice or heat and the skin.
- Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as naproxen or ibuprofen to reduce pain and improve your ability to move around. Do not take NSAIDS if you have kidney disease or a history of gastrointestinal bleeding or if you are also taking a blood thinner — such as Coumadin — without first talking with your doctor. In that case, it is safer to take acetaminophen, which helps lessen pain but does not reduce inflammation.
- Protection, rest, ice, compression, and elevation (known as the PRICE formula) can help the affected muscle. Here’s how: First, remove all constrictive clothing, including jewelry, in the area of muscle strain. Then:
- Protect the strained muscle from further injury.
- Rest the strained muscle. Avoid the activities that caused the strain and other activities that are painful.
- Ice the muscle area (20 minutes every hour while awake). Ice is a very effective anti-inflammatory and pain-reliever. Small ice packs, such as packages of frozen vegetables or water frozen in foam coffee cups, applied to the area may help decrease inflammation.
- Compression can be gently applied with an Ace or other elastic bandage, which can both provide support and decrease swelling. Do not wrap tightly.
- Elevate the injured area to decrease swelling. Prop up a strained leg muscle while sitting, for example.
- Activities that increase muscle pain or work the affected body part are not recommended until the pain has significantly improved.
What to know about muscle strain
Even if a person’s muscle strain does not require medical attention, it is important to rest the muscle and allow time for recovery. A strained muscle is more susceptible to re-injury.
Share on PinterestA person can apply an ice pack to help reduce swelling.
Several home treatments can help promote muscle healing. One of the most effective approaches to muscle strain recovery is the RICE technique.
RICE stands for:
- Rest: Resting the injured muscle gives the body time to repair.
- Ice: Applying a cloth-covered ice pack to the damaged muscle for 10 to 15 minutes at a time can help reduce swelling and inflammation.
- Compression: If possible, apply a compression bandage to reduce swelling. People can use cloth or elastic bandages from drug stores or online stores to wrap up an injured foot, ankle, leg, wrist, or arm.
- Elevation: Elevating an injured arm or leg can help reduce swelling and allow fluid to flow back toward the heart.
Learn more about the RICE method here.
In addition to using the RICE method, a person can take medication to control pain and reduce swelling or inflammation.
Over-the-counter (OTC) nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen, reduce both pain and inflammation. Acetaminophen can relieve pain, but it does not have the anti-inflammatory properties of NSAIDs.
If OTC medications are insufficient to relieve pain, a doctor may prescribe stronger anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxants, or pain-relieving medicines.
Massage therapy may also help relax injured muscles and enhance a person’s range of motion.
If a doctor clears a person to engage in regular exercise after their injury, they can usually benefit from doing stretching exercises. It is important to talk to a doctor before trying recovery exercises, as overexerting an already injured muscle can cause extra damage.
A person should never stretch to the extent that it causes pain and discomfort.
The specific stretches will depend on the injured area, but a person should always repeat the stretch two or three times. Examples of these stretches include:
1. Hamstring stretch
Tight hamstrings can make walking and running difficult and increase injury risk.
To stretch the hamstrings, stand with the feet hip-width apart, and bend at the waist to lean forward. There should be a mild stretch along the back of the legs.
2. Hip flexor stretch
For a strained muscle in the hip, lie flat on the back and pull the right knee to the chest. Hold it there for 10 to 15 seconds before straightening the leg out again. Repeat with the left leg, feeling a stretch in the upper thigh and hips.
3. Neck stretches
For a strained neck muscle, lean the head forward to try to touch the chin to the chest. Next, lean the head first to the left and then to the right, trying to touch the ear to the shoulder.
Stem Cells Heal Damaged Muscle, Doing What Surgery Can’t
Engineers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have figured out a cell-based approach to healing damaged muscle that could offer a more efficient method than currently used. Rather than implanting tissue, the researchers focus on delivering the cellular ingredients to regenerate muscle.
When the body recovers from a muscular injury, it relies on a kind of stem cell called a muscle satellite cell. These cells accomplish what surgical intervention can’t: They differentiate to form new muscle fibers, and fuse with existing muscle to repair an injury.
Transplanting these muscle satellite cells could eventually offer patients a better shot at muscular healing. Older patients, and those with genetic muscular dystrophy conditions, stand to benefit most. Both aging and muscular dystrophy leave patients with fewer and less functional muscle satellite cells.
But delivering muscle satellite cells to an injury is more complicated than injecting a slurry of cells into tissue.
“If you just implant the muscle satellite cells into the muscle itself, the surrounding environment actually kills the young stem cells,” said Young Jang, a professor of biomedical engineering who is leading the effort.
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Muscle satellite cells rely on external signals — both chemical and mechanical — to operate. Without a surrounding structure that prompts the cells to differentiate, the cells stagnate. The immune system flags that as atypical behavior and demolishes the offending cells.
Jang’s solution is to suspend the regenerative muscle satellite cells in a hydrogel — a jello-like material that mimics the natural cellular environment in multiple ways.
The hydrogel’s structure provides mechanical stimuli that directs the muscle satellite cells to grow and multiply. Certain chemicals mixed in the hydrogel cues the cells to perform different functions, and helps them survive.
Housing stem cells in hydrogels is not a new idea in the field of regenerative medicine. Many researchers working with stem cells for muscle recovery have focused on hydrogels made of biological proteins like collagen, fibrin, and laminin.
Naturally derived hydrogels mimic many important aspects of human tissue. But tuning their properties and achieving consistent materials can be difficult. That presents a problem in terms of scale-up and systematic testing.
To control the muscle stem cells’ environment more precisely, Jang and his team chose to use a synthetic hydrogel. Four-armed molecules — polyethylene glycol-maleimide — link together to form the chains of the gel’s structure.
These building blocks also react nicely to hold a variety of other chemicals within the gel, making it highly tunable. “It’s a versatile system that we can mix and match,” Jang said.
In recent experiments, Jang and his team aimed to create hydrogel conditions that coaxed muscle satellite cells to develop into muscle fibers and survive.
Including the right proteins in the hydrogel proved to be especially important. When hydrogels contained a specific set of adhesive proteins — peptide sequences targeting an adhesive protein called integrin — muscle satellite cells differentiated and fused together, forming muscle fibers that were able to contract.
Cells growing in hydrogels without those peptide sequences, on the other hand, couldn’t fuse together to form complete muscle fibers.
Jang and his team also designed these gels to degrade over time, leaving space for the muscle satellite cells to grow. Degradable hydrogels turned out to be important for cellular survival: Muscle satellite cells in degradable gels formed healthy colonies, while their counterparts in nondegradable gels did not.
Armed with a hydrogel formulation to support stem cell function, Jang and his colleagues tested the system to heal leg injuries in mice. They applied the hydrogel-encapsulated muscle satellite cells topically to exposed muscular injuries and found promising results.
The cells fused with existing muscle and formed new fibers in both aging mice and mice with muscular dystrophy.
For these experiments, Jang and his team isolated muscle satellite cells from young mice, but translating this kind of therapy into human medicine will require different avenues of cell sourcing.
Induced pluripotent stem cells — cells that can be coaxed to divide into a number of different cell types — may be one avenue for creating large volumes of muscle satellite cells. But that could be a ways down the road, and researchers will need to be careful with the risks inherent in encouraging cell division. “We don’t want to make tumor just to cure a muscle,” Jang said.
With cell sourcing advancements, delivering muscle satellite cells via this kind of hydrogel vehicle could open up many options for regenerative medicine.
Because the hydrogel is a liquid with controllable gelation, clinicians might one day deliver hydrogel-encapsulated muscle satellite cells intravenously, sending regenerative cells wherever they’re needed throughout a patient’s body, Jang said.
Including different chemical cues at different phases of injury could improve muscular recovery over long periods of time — from healing to rehabilitation — thanks to the inherent versatility of a synthetic hydrogel system.
Menaka Wilhelm is an independent writer focusing on technology.
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You probably already know that exercise is good for you, but have you ever stopped to ask yourself why?
The short answer is that exercise hurts your body, prompting a reaction. When you go for a run, lift weights, or play football, any discomfort is like a clarion call to the body, telling it that it needs to be better equipped to deal with the situation. The response – it becomes stronger, bigger, or more efficient – is why we exercise.
This process is natural and normal, but it’s easy to disrupt it with too much exercise. We constantly walk a tight rope between adequate stimulation leading to progression, and a lack of recovery which can lead to overtraining.
The perils of overtraining are numerous. Not only can it undo all the hard work you put in down the gym, but it can also leave you a husk of the man you were: lethargic, unable to sleep, iritable and without sex drive. What’s more, the disruption it causes to your body’s systems can actually lead to weight gain – ironic, but definitely not funny.
I find it useful in both my own training and that of my clients to plan for recovery as seriously as I plan the workouts. Below are ten steps you can take to facilitate speedy and complete recovery from your exercise efforts.
1. Structured Rest
Factoring in deliberate rest days is essential to any intense training program. Remember: more is not always better, and you don’t get stronger in the gym, you get stronger whilst you rest. I suggest incorporating a ‘down’ week every 8-12 weeks of intense exercise to allow your body to properly recover. This could be an entire week away from exercise or a time to temporarily reduce weight, intensity or volume. Believe me, your body will thank you for it.
On the flip side, it’s important that you don’t take too much rest, as your body will decondition and you’ll end up with that dreaded muscle ache that lasts for days after each workout section. Everyone is different, but a good rule of thumb is three hour-long workouts a week.
Your Post-Workout Recovery Guide
“No matter how you’re exercising, nutrition, hydration, and sleep are the main pillars of recovery,” says Alvino. That means eating ample protein and high-quality carbohydrates, consuming (at least) half your body weight in ounces of water, and aiming to get 8+ hours of sleep a night, she adds.
But depending on your fitness mainstay, there are additional recovery methods that can help you get the most out of your workout. So, whether you’re just getting into fitness or are starting a new fitness regime, we’ve rounded up the best recovery practices for your routine.
Remember to include these three practices in your post-workout recovery:
- 15-minute cool-down stretch immediately following class
- cup of coffee
HIIT-style workouts are incredibly taxing on your central nervous system and body, says Luciani, which is why she suggests a 15-minute cool-down routine. “A cool-down stretch allows your central nervous system to deregulate, returns your heart rate to its normal resting rate, and sets you up for speedier recovery,” she explains.
For an added recovery boost, don’t shy away from that second cup of joe. One study published in the Journal of Pain showed that exercisers saw a drop in delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) when they drank some coffee.
Rest schedule tip
- According to Alvino, you should never do HIIT-style training more than two days in a row. Instead, she suggests a two-day-on, one-day-off rest schedule.
- foam rolling
Relieving tension in your muscles after a weightlifting session is paramount to feeling top notch during your next lifting session, says Luciani. One of the best ways to do that, she explains, is massage. In fact, one study published in the Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation found that a post-exercise massage can significantly reduce exercise-induced pain and that regularly getting massages may help stave off delayed onset muscle soreness.
But while a massage might be an ideal recovery technique, there’s no denying that they’re also pricey. If you’re unable to drop the necessary dough on a weekly session, Alvino suggests foam rolling instead. This can also help reduce DOMS and even improve performance in your workouts that follow, according to a study published in the Journal of Athletic Training.
Rest schedule tips
- Beginners should take two days off between sessions, while regular lifters should rest every third day, according to a review published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.
- Take a de-load week once every two months. Luciani defines “de-loading” as a “purposeful lull in your training volume and intensity that lasts one week.” Luciani adds that coaches working with weightlifters will strategically place a de-load week into a training schedule after a heavy strength phase.
Resistance and circuit training
While sleep is a necessary practice for recovery from most exercises, Alvino stresses that sleep is the “number-one thing you can do your body” to help improve your performance and enhance your recovery from strength workouts. “It helps muscles restore energy levels, and your body to find homeostasis, especially after a strength-workout,” she adds.
How important is sleep after a workout? If you’re training regularly, sleep should always be a priority, but especially after a tough workout. In fact, according to one study, sleep deprivation actually impairs the recovery of muscles following muscularly taxing training. Here’s how many hours of sleep you really need.
You can also incorporate some light cardio, like walking, running (though it should be short and slow), or bike riding to speed up recovery. Luciani explains that you should take part in an activity that’s “gentle enough to prevent you from further tearing the muscle fibers” but also “active” enough to get your blood pumping. “This brings oxygen and nutrients to the targeted area and helps the body recover,” she adds.
Rest schedule tip Alvino recommends that you don’t do resistance training on the same muscle group two days in a row. Instead, you should take one to two nonconsecutive rest days each week.
- Epsom salt bath
- tart cherries
Because endurance training is taxing on your body, Luciani says that recovering from your training and staying off your feet is vital. One way to do this? A bath. Epsom salt baths have earned a lot of attention for their health benefits, particularly for athletes, but the research is still pretty new.
One small study published in the journal Temperature, however, did find that taking a hot bath can burn about 140 calories an hour and lower blood sugar by about 10 percent more than exercise.
For an extra recovery-boost, throw some tart cherries into your post-run snack. Research published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports found that marathoners consuming tart cherry juice five days before, on the day of, and 48 hours following their races reduced muscle soreness.
Rest schedule tip
- Alvino says that those training for a marathon should incorporate rest and recovery at least twice a week into their training schedule. These should be on nonconsecutive days.
Gabrielle Kassel is a rugby-playing, mud-running, protein-smoothie–blending, meal-prepping, CrossFitting, New York–based wellness writer. She’s become a morning person, tried the Whole30 challenge, and eaten, drank, brushed with, scrubbed with, and bathed with charcoal — all in the name of journalism. In her free time, she can be found reading self-help books, bench-pressing, or practicing hygge. Follow her on Instagram.