Just cranked out an intense, sweaty workout at the gym? Congrats—you’re on your way to becoming stronger, fitter, and more efficient. But rather than immediately ducking into the shower after your workout, you must take certain steps to ensure a swift recovery. Muscles don’t grow in the gym—they grow after. Proper recovery is crucial for tissue repair and muscle growth, and if you neglect it, you might face numerous setbacks such as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), aches and pains, or fatigue.
To get the most out of every workout, maximize your post-workout recovery period. Here are six simple tips to help you do just that.
1. Drink a whey protein shake.
Those who consume whey protein after their workout are going to notice accelerated rates of muscle building and recovery – and this can also help to blunt the cortisol response, as well. It’s a win-win for keeping your lean muscle mass increasing, not decreasing as some people experience.
After your workout, do some light stretches to help loosen up muscle tissues and prevent fatigue. Furthermore, stretching after your session will help increase your range of motion, preventing injury and joint pain.
3. Take a hot bath.
Later on in the evening after your workout is over, consider drawing a hot bath. Not only is it soothing, a warm bath will boost blood circulation to the muscle cells, delivering more nutrients for faster recovery. Plus, it can also help to ease your stress level and get you ready for a deeper sleep, another way to speed up recovery.
Many hardcore athletes rely on smart supplements to possibly enhance muscle recovery and stave off soreness. Creatine, protein powder (as already mentioned) and glutamine are the primary supplements to focus on. Creatine is believed to supply energy to muscle cells; protein powder aids with muscle growth; and glutamine is used for muscle recovery.
5. Focus on de-stressing.
Stress wreaks havoc on the body in many ways, but it is especially problematic after a workout session because it releases excess cortisol in your system, which impairs the muscle rebuilding process. To help best combat cortisol release, take a few minutes each night and write in a stress journal. The simple act of writing down anxious thoughts can be extremely therapeutic and help tame stress levels.
6. Foam roll.
To alleviate and even prevent muscle soreness, consider adding foam rolling to your workout routine. Foam rollers offer relief to tight, stiff, and sore muscles through mechanical rolling of tissues. Think of it like receiving a deep tissue massage, but for a fraction of the cost. No idea how to foam roll? Follow our helpful tutorial here.
Although most of us rush to the parking lot as soon as our workouts are over, don’t let your recovery merely be an afterthought. The speed in which you recover is going to establish the speed in which you see progress, so it’s in your best interest to devote as much attention to your recovery as you do your actual workout session. With these six easy tips in your arsenal, you can boost muscle recovery and get stronger by the week.
About Shannon Clark: Shannon Clark has a degree in Exercise Science and is an AFLCA certified personal trainer. She has written on the topics of health, fitness and nutrition for the last 8 years. Her insights are regularly published on bodybuilding.com, askmen.com and FitRated.com. FitRated is a leading fitness equipment review site where Shannon contributes her insights on equipment, workout plans and weight loss strategies.