- When you undergo intense forms of physical exercise, your muscles sustain varying degrees of damage, including muscle micro tears.
- While damaged muscles may sound bad, this is actually part of the process required to grow more muscle tissue and get stronger.
- There is a long list of things that can be done to improve your body's natural ability to recover from intense exercise.
- Proper nutrition and supplementation is a critical step in the natural muscle recovery process.
Legs aching from a longer than normal run? Arms and chest hurting after a heavier than normal upper-body workout? Shoulders and back sore from wearing a heavy backpack all day? Soreness might not feel good in your body, but as long as you’re not feeling serious pain, you should take it as a good sign that you are working your muscles hard and getting stronger! Countless daily activities and exercises exert stress on our muscles that cause damage and micro-tearing. While that may sound alarming, micro-tearing in your muscles is a very good thing. Gaining or maintaining strength is a major goal of most forms of exercise and physical activity. Scientifically speaking, the process by which we gain muscle strength and size is called muscular hypertrophy. Muscular hypertrophy involves working your muscles to the point of fatigue where either metabolic or mechanical damage takes place, requiring your body to initiate muscle repair. Now, this muscle repair process is where you can see gains in size and strength as your body “patches” and repairs the damage done during fatiguing exercise by adding extra muscle tissue to meet the demands your workouts are placing on your body. This repair and recovery process takes time, and it often takes longer than we would like it to. However, there are a number of things you can do to maximize post-workout muscle recovery and get back to full-force workouts more quickly. Let’s take a look at a few hacks you can incorporate into your daily routine to help you recover from intense exercise quickly and efficiently.
7 Muscle Recovery Tips and Tricks
- Always Warm Up and Cool Down
Seasoned athletes and bodybuilding pros know how important it is to warm up and cool down before every workout. Both warming up and cooling down can improve your performance and reduce the risk of injury. Warming up with a bit of light cardio or some low-weight exercises are great ways to get your blood pumping and muscles moving. Cooling down is another great way to help your body adjust to whatever you have coming post-workout. This could be as thorough as a stretching or yoga session, or it could be as simple as taking some time to walk around and let your heart rate come down. No matter your chosen warm up and cooldown, they are both sure fire ways to help you recover more quickly.
- Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Hydration is one of those hacks that can sometimes feel like a broken record. You’ve probably heard this time and again, but getting enough water during your day is critical for not just optimal athletic performance, but just about everything else in life as well. Staying hydrated helps regulate body temperature, improve sleep quality, deliver nutrients to cells, prevent infection, and generally improve your mood and cognition. During workouts, you experience more water loss than normal through increased respiration and sweat, so hydrating properly becomes even more critical. When it comes to recovery, making sure you get enough fluids will allow your body to transport harmful waste away from your muscles and replenish them with the nutrients they need. Your body is approximately 60% water, and keeping it that way is one of the best hacks for post-workout recovery.
Ensuring you are properly fueled before and after your workout is another terrific hack for maximizing muscle recovery. When your body has all the energy and nutrition it needs on hand through proper fueling, your body won’t have to work as hard to meet your workout’s nutrient demands. On-demand energy and nutrition will help ensure your body is running optimally and replenishing as you go. The second part of this fuel equation involves replenishing your body once you have finished your workout and giving it the fuel it needs to repair muscles and replenish depleted energy stores. Ensuring you consume high-protein foods at appropriate times pre- and post-workout will ensure your body has the fuel it needs to repair and replenish your muscles right when they need it.
- Ice Bath
Let’s not mince words. Unless you’re iron tough, or missing some nerve endings, ice baths suck! This is one muscle recovery hack that everyone loves to hate. Taking the plunge into an icy bath effectively helps reduce inflammation throughout your body. Reducing swelling in hard-worked muscles gives your body a boost when it comes to getting on top of removing the waste left behind in your muscle cells after an intense workout. After a while, however, taking that icy plunge might just feel good, and its ability to ease sore and aching muscles will make it that much easier for you to get back on your feet and back into the gym.
Although a massage may seem like an unnecessary luxury, this form of physical therapy can be a game changer when it comes to maximizing muscle recovery. For decades, professional sports teams and Olympic athletes have employed full-time massage therapists, and there are many good reasons for this beyond it being a luxurious perk. Massage therapy can be incredibly beneficial when it comes to relaxing, releasing tension, tightness, and stiffness in muscles and joints. By allowing someone else to work on your body through professional massage therapy, you are unlocking many wonderful benefits that go beyond boosted muscle recovery. There are all sorts of different types of massage therapy, so if this is something you are looking into, make sure the therapist is experienced in sports, athletic, or therapeutic massage, as these will be the most beneficial for your muscles.
Getting enough rest after intense exercise is critical to get your body back into peak condition so that you can keep pushing yourself to the next level. After you have worked your muscles to the point of fatigue, the only surefire way to recover, repair, and replenish your muscles is by giving them the adequate time they need to perform all the necessary cellular functions. Although adequate sleep is a critical part of rest and recovery, “rest” can also take active forms. This could include meditation, breath work, restorative yoga, or even just other activities that help you relax. Make sure you get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep per night, and try finding other ways to intentionally rest your muscles and mind. Your body will thank you and your muscles will be back in action before you know it!
In addition to all of these other hacks, there are a number of options when it comes to supplements that can aid and assist in recovery. Supplementation for recovery typically works by supercharging your body’s natural ability to perform all these other functions. So, by taking high-quality supplements, you can increase your body’s ability to stay hydrated, fuel properly, enter into rest, and generally recover more efficiently. While there is a long list of muscle recovery supplements—including muscle recovery drinks and foods—two supplements in particular that can help maximize muscle recovery are L-Glutamine and R+ Alpha Lipoic Acid (R+ALA). Glutamine
is a conditionally-essential amino acid that your body produces and stores, but that can become depleted when you undergo intense exercise. Glutamine has a number of important functions within the body, but for rest and recovery it acts as a cell volumizer, helping your cells hold on to the water they need for the repair and recovery process. R+ALA
is a powerful antioxidant that rapidly targets oxidative damage in your muscles and cells that is the result of stress like that which occurs during intense exercise. By reducing oxidative damage in your body, your muscles will be able to more quickly tackle other necessary repair and recovery processes without unnecessary steps in the way. Both of these supplements can be found in extremely high-quality and high-potency forms at allmaxnutrition.com
. Offering a wide-range of professional-grade supplements, protein powder, pre-workout, and weight loss and weight-gain supplements, Allmax is a trusted source for all your sports nutrition needs.
https://www.healthline.com/health/muscular-hypertrophy https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20045517 https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hsph-in-the-news/the-importance-of-hydration/ https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/ice-bath-benefits#benefits-of-ice-baths