There’s more to a workout than just sweat, tears, and muscle strain: in fact, what you do before and after a trip to the gym can matter more than the number of reps and lifts you complete there. Unless planned and implemented with due care, your tough gym work will be of little use, and it may even land you pain-chained to bed if you push your limits too fast or too fiercely. If you’re looking to avoid post-workout soreness, optimize recovery, and cut total downtime in between trainings, check out these simple tips and put them to use before you hit the gym next time: after all, it’s always better to be safe than sore when you’re building bulk.
Work It Off
Your body needs to rest to recover and replenish after intervals of intense strain, but hitting the bunk as soon as the training is done and avoiding physical activity on non-gym days is the worst thing you can do to your muscles. Instead of spending the day in the couch potato mode, try to incorporate light-to-moderate activity in your rest days to activate recovery and prevent muscle soreness and pains. A set of bodyweight exercises, light cardio, morning jogs, bike rides, or even a basketball match with your besties will boost blood flow to your muscles on recovery days and prevent buildup of lactic acid which often leads to post-workout inflammation and aches.
Eat It Up
Nutrition is another gym prep aspect that can shatter your performance and hinder recovery. To reduce recovery time and feed your muscles quality fuel, turn to protein-rich foods such as lean meat, soybeans, dairy products, and smoothies laced with whey protein. Also, don’t forget to eat a carb-rich snack after the workout so that your body may bump up glycogen and reduce post-workout muscle breakdown that can result in muscle damage, extended recovery, and underperformance. You should also boost intake of micronutrients that play a role in muscle synthesis, such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium, just to stay on the safe side.
Sleep It Through
What do you get when you put together tough trainings and poor sleep quality? If you guessed mood swings, bulk building stagnation, increased sensitivity to colds and viruses, and focus dips, you’re spot-on. Sleep quality impacts recovery efficiency, so don’t cut nighttime rest short when looking to burn fat and build muscles. If breathing problems are ruining your peaceful dreams, use a portable room dehumidifier or a mask with in-built dehumidifier such as ResMed AirSense 10 Autoset to ensure superior comfort and optimal nighttime oxygen levels. You can also try aromatherapy for sleep and stock your menu with tryptophan and melatonin-enhancing foods such as milk and rice.
Stretch it Out
Once the training’s done, most people don’t even bother stretching out before they head to the shower room. Unfortunately, skipping stretches can result in painful inflammations that usually require longer downtime in between visits to the gym. Unless you want sore muscles to stretch your recovery, you’d better do the stretches after every workout. Stretches will also allow your body to slowly restore normal temperature and blood flow after periods of intense physical strain, which is vital for preventing hardening of arteries, maintaining muscle tone and flexibility, and promoting muscle growth.
Rub It Away
Massage is another simple post-training trick you can try when looking to speed up recovery and prevent soreness, pain, and complications on down days. If you’re not into manual massage, you can use a massage stick or foam roller to rub stiffness and tension out of your muscles. Gentle pressure applied to tight or painful muscle groups will enhance circulation and prevent buildup of lactic acid which often occurs on rest days after intense trainings, thus allowing your muscles to get the biggest bulk bang out of the workout even with a shorter than optimal downtime in the mix.
Burning fat and building bulk isn’t merely a case of mind over matter. Self-discipline, adequately designed workout plan and proper nutrition will lay down the cornerstones for muscle growth in the long run, but unless you allow your body enough time to rest and replenish, all your hard gym work will be of little use. Luckily, you now have the know-how on the best ways to nudge your post-training recovery onto the speedy and efficient lane, so make sure you follow the tips listed above if you want to maximize training effects and shave recovery sans risks. Good luck!