Were you struggling to sit down on the toilet this morning because of that brutal leg workout you did yesterday? (Don’t worry, anyone who has ever grunted through enough squats has experienced that tribulation.)
Whether you're a recreational gym-goer or a competitive bodybuilder, recovery is an essential component to achieving your fitness goals. Instead of living with the ongoing tenderness and aches of “heavy-ass” weightlifting, give these science-backed recovery tips a shot and help you recuperate more effectively. (After all, it’s almost International Chest Day again…)
1. Get adequate rest
While the exact mechanisms underlying how sleep promotes recovery remain to be fully understood, research findings show there is a strong correlation between sleep deprivation and poor recovery from vigorous exercise. This is a common issue among bodybuilders and gym-goers who have chronic sleep apnea.
It’s rather common knowledge that sleep is when most of your muscle growing and repairing process happen, so getting proper rest throughout the week is essential for building stronger, bigger muscles and promoting recovery.
2. Listen to relaxing music to unwind
I’ve written a previous article that talks about the power of music, especially when you’re straining through an intense training session. While listening to hard rock (or death metal for all you Satanists out there) might get you amped up for your next set of squats, research shows that slow-tempo tunes can help decrease pulse rate and blood pressure after exercise. As such, don’t be afraid to turn on some smooth jazz or yoga music while you relax at home.
3. Get regular massage work done
In reality, getting a message is something that most people look forward to regardless of their exercise habits. Regular full-body and deep tissue massage work is a superb way to decrease lactate buildup in muscle tissue, promote blood flow, and enhance nutrient delivery to sore regions of the body. Even biweekly massages can drastically improve your recovery time and keep you agile for your next workout.
4. Use a foam roller
The majority of the aches and soreness that accompany vigorous training arise from ‘knotting’ in muscle tissue and surround fascia. Using a foam roller is one way to basically “roll out” these knots (i.e. it’s a type of myofascial release). Literature demonstrates that regular foam rolling can significantly reduce muscular tightness and enhance the recovery process.
5. Eat adequate protein
If you’ve been following the MPA blog for awhile, chances are you’re already eating adequate protein. Nevertheless, not eating sufficient protein is a surefire way of impeding your ability to grow and recover. Research shows that active individuals should consume around one gram of protein per pound of lean body mass; for regular bodybuilders and weightlifters, up to 1.5 or even 2 grams of protein/lb LBM might be beneficial for enhancing recovery.
6. Supplement with creatine and carbohydrates post-workout
Research consistently shows that consuming creatine with a small (but sufficient) amount of fast-acting carbohydrates after training is the best way to initiate the muscle rebuilding process. MPA CreRiboVOL is the most comprehensive post-workout recovery formula on the market, including 10 grams per serving of trademarked Creapure® (creatine monohydrate) and Cluster Dextrin® (high molecular weight carbohydrates).
7. Drink EAAs before/during/after exercise
Essential amino acids (EAAs) are indubitably the most crucial amino acids for activating muscle protein synthesis (MPS). Consuming EAAs (MPA PharmGrade) immediately before and during intense training helps stimulate MPS and enhance recovery, allowing you to bang out more reps and more sets. (Think of MPA PharmGrade like a new-age Powerade for strength athletes and bodybuilders.)
8. Incorporate ‘power naps’ in your day
‘Power naps’ have been demonstrated to improve recovery and soreness after intense training.9 Even as little as a 15-minute nap after you crush the iron can significantly support recovery. (Don’t fret, a quick nap in the afternoon or morning won’t disrupt your sleep-wake cycles.)
9. Use cold immersion therapy
It’s becoming more common for trained athletes and bodybuilders to utilize cold immersion therapy for relieving stiff joints and muscular aches. Research suggests cold immersion (like ice baths) can decrease inflammatory response from exercise for up to three days after intense training.10