We give so much importance and preparation for the pre-workout. This is usually done by getting a healthy amount of rest the night before, fueling our body with the right nutrition, and performing warm-up exercises to prepare our muscles.
While pre-workout preparation is important, post workout is equally important too. With the amount of hard work that we put our muscles through, they deserve some care and attention afterwards.
Bodybuilders should give high importance to muscle recovery. If you won’t, you would be having a hard time bulking up. Read on to know why muscle recovery is important and what are the effective tips to speed up muscle recovery.
Why is Muscle Recovery Important?
Contrary to popular belief, the building of muscles doesn’t occur during workouts. Instead, they are built in between them. This is why you should never underestimate the power of muscle recovery.
Why should you allow your muscles to recover after a workout?
Below are the benefits of muscle recovery after an intensive workout:
It Repairs Muscle Damage
Tough training creates micro-tears in your muscles. It can damage everything from contractile proteins to connective tissues. It may sound alarming, but it’s a normal process for muscle growth to occur. The muscle won’t be able to achieve muscle growth though until the repair process is fully complete. This repair process could take 24-48 hours.
Active recovery can help facilitate this process. Perform light exercises, such as easy runs, yoga or hikes on your rest days.
Nutrition and sleep play a huge role, too. You need about 7 to 8 1/2 hours of sleep every day to allow muscle recovery. Consume healthy carbohydrates and protein supplements to aid your recovery after a workout.
It Clears Out Metabolic Byproducts
Your body builds up metabolic byproducts as it produces adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Lactic acid is one of the most common metabolic byproducts that accumulate during exercise. It inhibits the production of ATP and impairs muscle contraction.
Your performance will suffer until lactic acid is cleared from your muscles. Just like a car engine, you would need to get rid of the built-up compounds before it can run smoothly.
It Replenishes Depleted Fuel Stores
ATP is the source of energy of the cells in your body. ATP is produced when you perform intense workouts. You’re burning this energy source as you do your snatches or sprints.
You need to give your body enough time to replenish the used fuels. If you don’t, you will have a weaker performance and you’ll be exposing yourself to fatigue and injury.
Effective Ways to Speed Up Muscle Recovery
A regular and intensive workout is the key to reach your body’s goal. However, it’s also important that you give your muscles some time to recover.
So how do you speed up muscle recovery and be on top of your game?
Below are some of the most effective tips for post-workout recovery.
Get Plenty of Rest
We all know that the right amount of rest is crucial for physical and mental health. What some of us don’t know is that the lack of it can affect your overall athletic performance. Depriving your body of sleep harms recovery as it inhibits the natural processes of your body. In addition, not getting enough sleep can also hinder muscle recovery.
So what is the right amount of sleep that you need?
It is recommended that you get 8 hours of sleep. It’s also helpful if you take a few minutes of an afternoon snooze. A 20-minute power nap can do wonders in restoring your muscles.
Observe Proper Hydration
Proper hydration before, during, and after a workout is very important. You lose fluids and electrolytes as you sweat and drinking water helps replenish them. Drink plenty of fluids especially during intense physical activity to avoid muscle damage, fatigue, and other complications.
Always make it a habit to drink plenty of water after your workout session. Hydration is key if you want to reduce the risk of ruptures, tears, and other sports-related injuries.
Many bodybuilders are a big fan of sports drinks with electrolytes. While this replenishes lost fluid, nothing is more beneficial than plain water.
Consume High Amount of Protein
You must include protein in your diet since this nutrient plays a huge role in muscle repair. Lean cuts of meat, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, and eggs are an excellent source of protein. Include these foods in your meals or snacks to speed up your recovery.
Make sure that you have protein in your dinner. Consuming protein before you go to bed aids in muscle repair over time. As your body metabolizes essential amino acids, it also diminishes the sensation of soreness that you can otherwise feel the next day.
Not everyone can get the recommended amount of protein from their diet. If this is the case, protein supplements are a huge help to meet this dietary requirement.
Plan Your Rest Days
What’s the general rule when it comes to rest days?
If you’re performing demanding routines, you must have a healthy gap of 48 hours between workouts. This gives your body ample amount to rest and recover.
It does not mean that you will spend your entire rest days on the couch though. You should still perform light exercises, such as running or yoga. Stretching also aids in muscle recovery.
On the other hand, you can abstain from active recovery if you feel an injury is coming. Listen to the cues that your body is sending and take some days off if it’s screaming rest.
Indulge in a Cold Bath
Having a cold bath is effective in providing relief from muscular tension and fatigue. Immersing your body in cold water after a tough workout can reduce inflammation and soreness for a period of 24 to 48 hours. The ice also acts as an anesthetic that numbs the affected area and promotes an easier recovery.
Muscle recovery is as important as the strength and effort that you put in during your workout. Give your body the proper rest and attention it needs. You’ll be able to perform better and achieve your body’s goal sooner, if you listen to and care for your body.
Christ, S. (n.d.). 12 Proven Ways To Speed Up Muscle Recovery. Retrieved from https://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/12-proven-ways-speed-muscle-recovery.html
Quinn, E. (2019). Why Athletes Need Rest and Recovery After Exercise. Retrieved from https://www.verywellfit.com/the-benefits-of-rest-and-recovery-after-exercise-3120575
Roberts, K. (2018). 5 Natural Ways to Speed Up Muscle Recovery After a Workout. Retrieved from https://thedoctorweighsin.com/muscle-recovery-after-workout/
Sullivan, B. (2018). Why Is Recovery After a Workout Important?. Retrieved from https://www.openfit.com/ultimate-recovery-guide