If you’re a gym-goer who regularly pushes your body to its limits, chances are you’re familiar with delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). We’re talking about the crippling muscle pain that arrives days after your workouts. It’s enough to send anyone down a spiral of whether they’re making the right lifestyle choices. And if you’re just plain tired of suffering through unbearable muscle pain and body soreness, it’s time you learned how to speed up muscle recovery after a workout. Because, life is too short to feel anything less than 75-percent.
So, rather than popping paracetamol for pain relief, implement these proven ways to speed up muscle recovery after a workout.
Protein post workout
Protein consumption receives a pretty epic rap in the fitness world, and for good reason. When you exercise, repetitive movements cause the muscle fibres in your body to become damaged. Consuming protein after your workout repairs this muscle damage, enabling your muscles to heal and grow bigger. So, whether you’re slamming down a beef burger or sipping on a protein shake, nailing your protein target to align with your level of activity is super important. Research says 20-40g of protein, or 0.4 – 0.5g per kilogram of your body weight is ideal for muscle growth and recovery.
Eat carbohydrates post workout
Muscles are a complex part of the human body. They not only help dudes look good, but they also store carbohydrates in the form of glycogen for energy. When you’re busy in the gym, your muscles use this glycogen as their primary energy source. The more energy you use, the more carbohydrates you will need to replace, especially if you’re a fan of back-to-back workouts. Aim for 1.2g of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight per hour. Bonus recovery points for carbs with a glycemic index (GI) over 70.
Drinking enough water is essential for muscle recovery. With symptoms of thirst, fatigue, light-headedness and muscle cramping, you’re not yourself when you’re dehydrated. Not getting enough of the good stuff, aka H2O, can impair your muscles’ ability to repair themselves. The Australian recommended dietary intake (RDI) of water for men is 2.6L per day. Increase according to your thirst – it truly is the best indicator.
Drink tart cherry juice
Move over OJ, tart cherry juice is the beverage of choice for men looking to recover faster and reduce muscle soreness after exercise. While more research needs to be conducted, the current studies on tart cherry juice aiding muscle recovery and reducing soreness after strength and endurance exercise have been promising. In fact, this study found that runners who drink tart cherry juice for seven days prior to and during a strenuous running event can expect minimal post-run muscle pain. Just be sure to buy tart cherry juice and not the sweet cherry version.
You’ve all been there. It’s the day after leg day and you’ve risen from your slumber feeling like you were attacked by a ninja. Only there was no ninja, you’ve simply got a bad case of the fitness hangover. The last thing you want is to head back to the gym for another gruelling session. But, backing up your gym session could be exactly what your sore muscles need according to the repeated bout effect. Basically, the repeated bout effect is a term to describe the muscular adaptation to reduce further muscle damage from the same movements within a close timeframe.
By now most of you know the recommended daily sleep target sits between 7-9 hours. Maybe you hit that target every night, maybe you fall short, or maybe you manage to occasionally score a few extra z’s. The thing is, sleep plays a super important role in helping muscles recover from exercise. People who exercise regularly need more rest than the average sedentary Joe. We’d even go as far to suggest 10 hours of sleep on your most intense workout days. Go on, hit snooze a few extra times – we totally support that.
Take your rest days seriously
Now, we’re not here to call anyone out, but we all know ‘that guy’ who doesn’t like to take a rest day. Often their decision to skip rest day is based purely upon some personal ego-based theory that said human doesn’t in fact need a rest day. They feel fine. Their body isn’t sore. They’re a tough, magical creature with a body that defies the laws of physics. Well, sorry to bust your balls, but scheduling a rest day is one of the best ways you can speed up muscle recovery after a workout. Your body needs time to chill so it can repair, recover and grow bigger muscles. So, ditch the ego and watch those biceps grow.
Practice an effective warm-up
When looking for ways to speed up muscle recovery after a workout, it’s a good idea to think ahead and practice an effective warm-up. Preparing the muscles via dynamic stretching prior to cardio and strength workouts helps to reduce muscle soreness and lessen the risk of injury.