By: Matt Weik

If you train with any kind of intensity, you know what follows – extreme soreness. DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness) is real, and when it creeps in to pay you a visit, you’ll look for just about anything to provide some relief. How well you recover from intense workouts will determine the severity and length of your muscle soreness. The more effectively you are able to improve recovery, the faster you can get rid of muscle soreness and get back into the gym to do it all over again. (Side note: It does seem a little odd that we enjoy this process, no?)

With all of that being said, this article will lay out nine strategies you can consider implementing in order to improve recovery. You may decide to use one or many – it’s entirely up to you.

1.      Use a Massage Gun or Foam Roller

A massage gun or foam roller are considered two amazing tools that you can utilize following grueling workouts. For some, a massage gun may be out of the budget, but for under $20, you can get yourself a foam roller and keep it at home.

Both of these tools can improve recovery and do it incredibly well. The goal with both is to not only help increase blood flow to the area applied but to also work out any tightness or knots that you may have in the muscle itself. The goal is to decrease muscle tension and reduce inflammation while flooding the muscle with oxygenated blood and nutrients.

2.      Get a Professional Massage

There are few things in life as enjoyable as a professional massage. A good massage can help remove toxins from the muscle, flush them out, increase blood flow, and break up any tightness you may be experiencing.

While most people don’t have the means of getting one following every workout, every once in a while, as a treat, can do the trick nicely. That said, circling back to #1, those two tools can help work the muscles post-workout and improve recovery almost as well as scheduling a professional massage – and you have the ability to do it in the privacy of your own home and whenever you want.

3.      Get More Sleep

The first thing you should focus on is getting a minimum of seven hours of sleep each night. If you are below that number, make it a priority to rearrange your schedule to allow for that recommended number. That said, getting some extra sleep (more than usual) can definitely help improve recovery.

Sleep allows your body to produce growth hormone (GH), which is directly responsible for helping repair and build lean muscle tissue. Despite what many people assume, your muscles aren’t growing in the gym. It’s proper rest and recovery outside of the gym that helps support hypertrophy and rebuilding torn-down muscle fibers.

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4.      Utilize Amino Acids

There are many excellent amino acid supplements out on the market that can help not only as an intra-workout supplement but also as a post-workout supplement to improve recovery.

Amino acids are used by the body to help repair muscle fibers following intense workouts. Rather than consuming protein that needs to be broken down into usable amino acids, you can benefit from using them as a standalone supplement.

MPA PharmGrade EAA would be a great (and refreshing) option that contains all of the essential amino acids necessary to help enhance muscle recovery following intense training sessions. This high-quality amino acid supplement contains over 13g of Ajinomoto branded (AjiPureâ) essential amino acids per serving as well as 3g of coconut juice powder and 49mg of Himalayan Pink Sea Salt to help improve hydration levels.

5.      Consume More Protein

Piggybacking off of amino acids is protein. You will want to increase your total daily intake of protein to help prime your body to rebuild and repair the sore and broken-down muscle fibers. Try to take in as many whole food sources of protein as possible while leveraging a protein powder (as a liquid source) post-workout.

Protein is 100% necessary to improve recovery and help you better manage muscle soreness. If you want to experience a high-quality whey protein isolate (WPI), give MPA IsoSolve a try. MPA IsoSolve is a 100% cold-filtered whey isolate that contains zero lactose, zero sugar, is low in fat, and is loaded with 25g of a premium protein to help improve recovery and aid in the muscle-building process.

6.      Drink More Water

Every single cell in your body demands water. Water helps transport oxygen and nutrients throughout the body and improve recovery. Adequate water intake can help improve hydration levels, decrease the risk of dehydration, and help remove toxins from the body that could stall the recovery process.

While consuming enough water throughout the day is essential, don’t forget to also sip on water throughout your workouts and following to help replenish any fluids lost as sweat. 

7.      Try a Cold Bath or Shower

Exposing yourself to extremely cold water may not sound like fun (and it’s not), but it can definitely help improve recovery from workouts. Immersing yourself in ice-cold water following demanding workouts can help reduce muscle soreness while also playing a role in reducing inflammation.

If you really wanted to get the best results from your efforts, draw yourself an ice bath and soak in it. This will hit your entire body versus water coming from a shower head hitting a specific area of your body and then the water running off. Regardless of if you go the route of an ice bath or a cold bath/shower, it’s going to be a slightly unpleasant experience but can be well worth it to improve recovery.

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8.      Jump in the Sauna 

Even though you may have just tapped out on a killer workout and are hot, jumping in the sauna following your session can help improve recovery. If your gym has a sauna (or if you’re lucky enough to have one in your home), use it to your advantage.

Jumping in a sauna can aid in increasing blood flow to shuttle oxygenated blood to your taxed muscles (along with key nutrients) while also being able to help relieve muscle tension and allow your muscles to relax thanks to the heat. 

9.      Implement Rest Days

The mentality to “never miss a workout” or “never go a day without getting in your workout” can potentially cause you to do more harm than good. It doesn’t allow your body the necessary time to recover properly. If you want to improve recovery, you need to schedule and implement rest days. These are days where you forgo any resistance training and instead allow your body to rest.

It is recommended that you provide your body with 24-72 hours of rest before hitting the same muscle group again. This may allow your body the ability to rebuild any torn-down muscle fibers and allow them to come back bigger and stronger than before.