If you want to get the full benefit of your workouts, you have to incorporate proper recovery methods. Read on for our top tips for muscle recovery!
It takes hard work and dedication to lead a healthy lifestyle while also building strength and endurance.
You have to continue to challenge yourself to tough workouts to maintain your fitness and get a ripped and toned body.
But what guys sometimes forget is that recovery between these intense training sessions is just as important.
Every time you work out, you create tiny micro-tears within your muscle fibers, which is necessary to stimulate muscle growth.
However, you also have to allow your muscles to rest between your strength training sessions so that these muscle tears can repair and rebuild.
Without proper recovery, you will just be constantly breaking down muscle without properly building it back up again.
This means you could be wasting all of that time spent in the gym.
After exercise-induced muscle damage, intramuscular inflammation eventually leads to muscle remodeling.
This is how you achieve muscle hypertrophy. However, you also need the time and the building blocks to build these muscle fibers back up.
Top 9 Muscle Recovery Tips
For many, coming up with a recovery plan is harder than developing an actual workout routine!
But with these top tips for muscle recovery, you will be well on your way to getting the most out of each workout.
1. Rest Muscle Groups
There is an ongoing debate about the optimal amount of rest and recovery needed between workouts.
The general consensus is that you should give your body a minimum of 48 hours, and possibly 72 hours, of rest before another bout of resistance training.
One meta-analysis of 140 exercise studies found that untrained participants experienced maximal strength gains by training each muscle group three days a week, while trained individuals experienced the biggest gains training two days a week.
This correlates with a rest period of about 48-72 hours between workout sessions.
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2. Use Compression Garments
Research has found that utilizing compression garments for recovery after exercise can help increase power and strength.
In addition, there is evidence that compression gear can also reduce perceived muscle soreness and swelling.
You can find compression gear for your calves or entire lower extremities, as well as your arms.
Using these garments in addition to your other recovery techniques will have you feeling stronger and more revived for your next workout.
Need some new workout gear? Check out this guide to the best workout gear for men!
3. Cold Immersion Therapy
Cryotherapy, or cold water immersion therapy, has been shown to help alleviate soreness after workouts.
A 2015 meta-analysis that pooled data from 27 articles found that cooling, and especially cold water, immersions affected the symptoms of DOMS significantly 24 hours after recovery.
If you’re unsure about trying this out, start out by standing in a cold shower following a workout.
At the end of your shower turn down the temperate as low as you can handle and stay in for as long as possible.
After trying this a few times you can attempt an ice bath.
Buy a few bags of ice from your local supermarket and fill your bath with them.
Add cold water and submerge yourself in the ice. Try and stay in for at least five minutes to get the full benefits.
Does cryotherapy work for weight loss? This video digs into the research to find out the truth.
4. Percussive Devices
Percussion, or vibration therapy, is a newer modality used to help decrease delayed onset muscle soreness.
Since soreness following a workout can impede performance and daily activities days later, using these devices has been found to be a great way to aid in recovery.
Percussion devices, or massage guns, are marketed under a number of different brands, but all of them use the same principles.
When used correctly, percussive massage devices can be used to dramatically improve recovery time.
As mentioned above, these devices help with post-workout soreness by increasing blood flow to the muscles used in their training.
This helps target sore muscles in a similar way a massage would.
In addition, massage guns can decrease myofascial adhesions that reduce the range of motion and cause even more pain during exercise.
Using a percussive device helps break myofascial and restore range of motion.
Waking up with aches and pains? Click here for things you can start doing to help regain and improve your mobility.
5. Dynamic Warm-Up Prior to Workouts
A review of exercise studies found that a warm-up with dynamic stretching can help decrease delayed onset muscle soreness.
In addition, dynamic stretches help increase power output during exercise as compared to static stretching.
So not only will this help with muscle recovery, but it will also lead to a better overall workout.
In this video, Dr. A shows you the 3 core principles of a good warm-up.
6. Foam Rolling
While a warm-up with dynamic stretching can help decrease delayed onset muscle soreness, the cooldown does not really have an effect on muscle soreness.
However, foam rolling can substantially improve muscle tenderness following exercise.
So if you have a foam roller available, this is a great way to cool down after a tough workout.
With a foam roller, you can target the upper and lower body to improve range of motion and decrease post-exercise soreness.
Use this ground-up, post-workout stretch routine to get rid of lactic acid from your muscles after your workouts and help to avoid delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS).
7. Quality Nutrition After a Workout
Protein is the building block for muscle growth, so you want to include lean protein sources into your diet throughout the day and following your strength training workouts.
Research has found that whey protein has the advantage in aiding muscle growth following a workout.
It is digested quickly, peaks in the blood, and can be used for muscle protein synthesis in the crucial period following a workout where muscle breakdown has occurred.
In an especially intense workout, it is also important to combine this with a carbohydrate source as well as this will replenish glycogen stores and allow insulin to raise enough to allow nutrients to move into your muscle cells to do their work and aid in muscle recovery.
So if you can’t get something to eat right after a workout, a whey protein shake with additional carbs is a great option.
Studies have even found that fat-free chocolate milk is a great post-workout go-to due to its ratio of protein and carbohydrates!
Learn more eating and meal timing around a workout, whether you work out in the morning, afternoon, after work, or late at night.
Adequate sleep is essential for recovery.
While you are sleeping, the body is able to fully recover and repair itself after a strenuous workout.
In addition, lack of sleep increases cortisol levels.
Since this is a catabolic hormone, it will break down muscle even more and slow your recovery.
Sleep also enhances muscle recovery through protein synthesis and human growth hormone release.
So don’t waste a hard workout by staying up late!
It is essential to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night to allow for the best recovery.
How much sleep do you need after a workout for maximum gains? Watch this video to find out!
9. Adequate Hydration
Staying hydrated during exercise is important to replace your sweat losses and get you to the finish line.
However, hydration in between workouts is just as important.
Strength training builds up muscles by first breaking them down and then rebuilding them through protein synthesis.
This protein synthesis, however, requires that muscles are well hydrated.
If you are dehydrated following a workout, protein synthesis will be slowed and will delay your recovery from the workout.
In addition, a small study from The Journal of Applied Physiology found that having poor hydration can increase cortisol levels and attenuated the body’s response to testosterone during exercise.
The amount of water that you should be drinking each day will vary based on your level of activity.
The easiest way to monitor your hydration status is by the color of your urine. It should be pale or clear colored.
And always remember that the higher your level of activity, the more water you will need throughout the day.
Check out these simple strategies and tips that will make it easier for you to hit your daily water target.
You Have To Recover Muscle to Rebuild Muscle
Sometimes it can be hard to rest, especially when you love being active.
But if you want to get the full benefit of your workouts, you have to incorporate proper recovery methods.
Without this, you will just be constantly breaking down your muscles and will never see full results.
You don’t have to do every one of these recovery methods.
However, by adding one or two into your weekly fitness routine you should start to feel more revitalized going into your workouts.
This will improve your overall fitness and health, reduce injuries, and build muscle and strength.
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