This is a guest post by Luke Douglas who is a fitness and health blogger at Ripped.me, and a great fan of the gym and a healthy diet. He follows all the trends in fitness, gym and living a healthy life, and loves to share his knowledge in this field through useful and informative articles. You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter. In this article Luke talks about 7 ways to recover after a hard workout.
When you go to the gym to work out, you try hard to get the most out of each of your sessions (that is, if you’d like to see any results). So, you push your reverse lunges while squatting, and you often overdo it, just like with your hamstrings and quads. Once you stop lifting, the body starts to regenerate your muscle micro-tears and to replenish its energy stores, which is when your muscles grow. However, you should help your muscles repair by providing it with enough time for an effective post-workout recovery. These are some of the ways for maximizing your recovery.
1. Plan and schedule your recovery
In order to maximize the recovery process, it has to be planned, proactive, and effectively executed. Remember: when you exercise, you exhaust your body by breaking down tissues, leading it to a fatigued state, and depleting your energy stores. Working out intensively without a proper recovery you’ll quickly bring yourself to exhaustion, which can cause various chemical and physiological changes (especially if you don’t address the fatigue properly). Plan your recovery week every 3-5 weeks. Perform less volume, and perform half the number of reps (with under-maximal loads), and you’ll feel energized and refreshed when you leave the gym.
2. Have a good night’s sleep
Your workout capacity can be reduced due to a lack of proper sleep. It can also negatively impact the physiological mechanisms responsible for your body’s adjustment to an intensive workout, increase perception of fatigue, alter your mood, and disrupt the secretion of hormones during sleep. When we sleep, we induce a state of recovery, with increased concentrations and activity of anabolic hormone and decreased catabolic hormone concentrations and activity. The effects of these anabolic hormones can be triggered by shortened or disrupted sleep, so make sure you develop and maintain a regular sleeping routine.
3. Post-workout supplementation
If your supplementation doesn’t seem to work, change it and perfect it. Change your protein and easily-digested carb intake, and make sure your protein intake is on the right level. Proteins are known as the “building blocks” of our muscles, so you need to get enough of them to ensure the best muscle restoration and growth process. There are also supplements, such as always welcome glucosamine, that can help speed up the repair of your joints and cartilage, so you can exercise without joint-pain and maximize your mobility and flexibility.
4. Drink water
Dehydration can slow down your recovery process, as well as lower your performance. The body’s need for electrolytes and water increases due to the increased metabolic rate. A minimum amount of water intake per day is 3.7L/day for males and 2.7L/day for females. There are no excuses for not getting your minimum dose of water, so don’t be negligent and always have a bottle of water by your side.
5. Active recovery
Post-workout recovery doesn’t mean you should sit around all day, doing nothing. An easy bike ride, throwing a Frisbee in the park, or some light mobility exercises can even improve the recovery. It’s called an active recovery – improving your muscle circulation and stimulating your blood flow, thus relieving muscle soreness. A short foam-rolling session can be an excellent way to combat muscular tightness, without a doubt.
6. Salt Bath
Fill your bathtub with hot water once a week, 1-2 hours before going to bed. Add about 300-400g of Epsom salts, and soak your body in for no more than half an hour. The magnesium sulphate from the Epsom Salts, when absorbed from the skin, relaxes muscles, sedates the nervous system, reduces swelling, and draws toxins from the body. However, if you’re suffering from low blood pressure or kidney conditions, avoid using Epsom Salts.
7. Always stretch
When it comes to muscle recovery and growth, stretching is an unusually underrated factor. Without the necessary flexibility and pliability of muscles, you won’t be able to reach the peak of your muscle gain potential. If your ankles are too tight, you definitely won’t be able to go deep enough in a squat. Find the time to stretch before and after a workout, to warm up and cool down. By stretching, you will downplay the possible muscle soreness and relieve the muscle tension. Don’t skip stretching, plan it and take it seriously.
Whatever your fitness goals might be, recovery is an essential component of every fitness plan. Whether you want to get faster or stronger, try weaving some of these tips into your recovery plan in order to recover fast, and maximize the results of your hard work.
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