What most people are unaware of is that muscle growth begins after the workout and that it can’t happen without the right recovery protocol. Especially if you’re into weightlifting where your muscles suffer microtears and end up actually broken in the process of catabolism. Your body immediately begins repairs, but it needs your help. That’s why we’ve put together some post-workout tips that will boost your recovery process and bring desired results.
Leave Enough Time to Cool Down & Stretch
After a workout, especially an intense one, most of us can’t wait to drop onto a couch and become a potato. But real recovery begins before you leave the gym. Nothing reduces the effects of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) like cooling down and stretching. It is the perfect way to enhance the clearance of enzymes which are responsible for residual fatigue and muscle damage. Proper stretching activates the muscles and increases blood flow and body heat, helping your body to muscles to receive the nutrients needed to reduce soreness.
So after you pick yourself up from the floor just keep moving at a gentle pace – that will allow your heart rate to come back to resting level. If you don’t take time to cool down your heart rate will slow down abruptly leading to blood pooling in your lower body which can lead to dizziness and even fainting. Then you should immediately start stretching while your muscles are still pliable and warm, making them easier to reach new levels of flexibility. There are no muscular gains without the necessary muscle pliability and flexibility – you won’t be able to go deep enough in a squat if you’re ankles are too tight, meaning that maximum benefits will be out of your reach. Make sure you leave at least 20 mins after a workout for it – if you don’t plan it the temptation to skip it is much stronger.
During our workout routine where we’re able to lose more than a quart of water in just one hour. That’s why it’s extremely important to replenish your stores as soon as you can. Most people fail to consume enough water simply because they rely on their thirst mechanism, but the fact is that you’ll already be dehydrated by the time you’re thirsty. Having enough water in your system helps to bring the electrolyte balance inside your body back to normal and therefore improves your recovery time. Your body loses electrolytes through sweat and if it comes to the imbalance you can experience symptoms such as mental confusion, nausea, fatigue, and muscle cramps. If the supply stays low your muscles will continue to feel week and you can say goodbye to your performance. Enough water also increases the number of nutrients absorbed from food and helps prevent the breakdown of muscle proteins.
If that’s not enough to make you drink up, you’ll also need it to increase your flexibility and deal with muscle and joint pain since its role in lubricating and cushioning tissues and joints making them remain elastic is extremely important.
Eat & Shake
You’re gonna need to feed your muscles with post-workout protein shakes since they’re your fuel to improve and grow. You should aim at 20 to 50 grams after each workout depending on your bodyweight and this intake is vital, especially if you haven’t eaten for hours. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have to eat – that’s why it’s called a supplement. Protein alone has a positive effect on muscular strength and muscle growth post workout, but its real potential lies in powerful combo with carbohydrates, so don’t hesitate to eat up. You’ll need carbs after a workout to replenish your glycogen stores, as this is a chemical that your body utilizes as its main fuel source. It is needed to generate adenosine triphosphate which transports chemical energy and therefore is crucial for muscle contractions.
Also, don’t forget to include potassium in your post-workout nutrition since it’s a key mineral that plays an important role in muscular energy. You can find enough of it in a delicious meal of mashed potatoes and in bananas that go nearly with everything.
Another important secret is to supply your muscles with nutrition before bed. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should munch another portion of mashed potatoes, but the consummation of protein before bed will definitely enhance recovery and muscular adaptations even further. Protein breakdown occurs fast during a long overnight, and protein intake before bed will reduce it, at the same time providing your body with constant amino acid supply while you sleep.
While whey protein is the best one to take right after a workout due to its rapid absorption rate, the casein one will have the greater effect while you sleep.
You shouldn’t consider your sleep just as the time to relax – it is the time your body needs to restore itself. That’s why, when it comes to muscle recovery, having adequate sleep is of the utmost importance. If you’re sacrificing hours of sleep you’ll at the same time sacrificing all the effort you’ve invested in your training.
It will make you mentally weaker and produce a negative impact on your drive during training sessions. It will also mess with your hormonal and immune functions which play important roles in growth, toxin and waste products removal, and cellular repair. Your sleep regulates two key anabolic hormones – growth hormone and testosterone – and a decrease in testosterone concentration will increase cortisol and damage your natural production of growth hormone. Depriving yourself of sleep is actually doing the opposite of what you want when trying boost recovery and results, so sleep tight at least seven hours, while nine would be perfect.
When you look at it, it’s not that difficult. Just 20 more minutes after a workout, regular intake of water, some delicious food combined with protein shakes, and a good night of sleep. When it comes to real results it’s not just about training hard but also about training smart, and this happens in the realm of recovery.