Tips to Recover from Your Workout
People who are serious about working out know the importance of workout recovery in facilitating optimum muscle growth. During intense exercises, your muscles are subjected to a lot of strain. Most will suffer microscopic tears which release component proteins. These proteins can then be used again either for the repair of the damaged tissues or for the building of new ones. However, these don’t occur for as long as you are using your muscles during workouts. The only time that your body will be able to utilize these proteins, as well as other structural elements, is when you are done with the day’s workout routine. If you are really bent on building a well-sculpted body, ensure maximum gains, or simply stay at the peak of your performance, then you should also focus on optimizing your workout recovery. Here are 8 helpful tips.
Push Yourself Beyond Your Comfort Zone
It is easy to see what pushing your body beyond what it is capable of can do for you when it comes to improving your physique and performance. Unfortunately, there are no clear and fast rules to just how far you should push yourself. The key here is to push yourself such that your muscles will really have to work hard almost to the point that they will hurt for countless days. Take note – “almost”. You don’t want to push it too far that you’d be bed-ridden for several days simply because you’ve overworked your muscles.
Bodybuilders and athletes will push their bodies beyond their comfort zones, but they are careful enough not to destroy the very body that they are trying to build and strengthen. As such, it is often wise to proceed in a gradual, almost methodical manner. For example, if you’re able to execute 4 reps of reverse lunges today, you should already aim for 5 reps in the following session.
The idea is to create the stimulus for your muscles to keep growing. If you keep on repeating the same exercises at the same intensity, then you will not really be facilitating muscle growth. On that note, gradually increasing your workout intensity also helps facilitate better workout recovery.
Always Adhere to a Good Pre-Workout Nutrition
Everyone knows that food provides us with the energy in our daily activities. This is even more so when you’re working out. However, what is crucial here is choosing the best kind of pre-workout nutrition and not just simply putting random food items in your mouth and into your tummy. What you need are the right kinds of food items that will help facilitate the rebuilding of tissues after your workout.
As a rule, you should always get the highest possible quality of lean proteins together with complex carbohydrates whenever you intend to execute a really intense workout. The complex carbohydrates will give you more stable energy sources while you are working out while the proteins can help ensure your muscles will not be breaking down the proteins stored in your muscles to aid in the rebuilding process. Ideally, you should have your pre-workout meal about 2 hours before you hit the gym. This will save you from cramps as well as a host of digestive issues.
Adding branched chain amino acids into your pre-workout nutrition can also help in the more efficient repair of damaged muscle tissues while promoting optimum regeneration and faster recovery. These amino acids can help reduce exercise fatigue, decrease the incidence and severity of muscle soreness, facilitate the growth of muscles, and prevent wasting.
Be Mindful of Your Proteins After Workout
Proteins should never be underestimated whether it is before, during, or after an intense workout. Beefing up your nutrition with BCAAs prior to working out can already provide you with remarkable benefits especially in terms of how fast you will recover and how robust the muscles will grow. Equally important is the addition of high-quality proteins right after the workout.
Ideally, you would want to consume at least 20 grams of protein up to 50 grams after every workout. This typically depends on your body weight. Generally, individuals with less muscle mass should do fine with the lower limit of 20 grams. For folks with greater muscle mass, the upper limit of 50 grams should be the target.
When it comes to post-workout proteins, one of the most convenient proteins you can have is whey protein. It already comes in easy-to-mix formulations so one can simply concoct a shake in a protein shaker right after the workout. But perhaps the biggest advantage of such protein preparations is that it is easily absorbed by the digestive tract. This means you are already putting these proteins to good use.
For best results, whey protein can be followed by fast-acting carbohydrates which can help replenish glycogen levels that have been used up during the exercise. These carbs will also give you an instant energy boost so you don’t hit the sack straight away. More importantly, the presence of glucose in the blood will stimulate the release of insulin. When given at the right time, insulin can prevent the breakdown of proteins in the muscles while also stimulating the more efficient synthesis of additional muscle proteins.
Add Potassium-Rich Foods in Your Post-Workout Diet Plan
Potassium is one of the most important elements in the body alongside sodium. Together, these two elements maintain the integrity of the cell. While potassium is best known for its role in the conduction of nerve impulses by changing the polarity of the cell membrane, its ability to maintain cell integrity cannot be overlooked. This is especially the case in intense exercises.
The individual muscle cells depend on potassium and sodium to receive electrical impulses from the nervous system. This stimulates them to contract. Without the interplay between sodium and potassium, muscle contraction may not occur, barring other factors, of course.
Unfortunately, intense exercises can also deplete your potassium levels such that you will feel a lot weaker right after the workout. Eating bananas, oranges, potatoes, cantaloupes, grapefruits, and sweet potatoes can help replenish potassium levels in the body. Bananas are almost always a must-have for serious bodybuilders and athletes. It’s rich in potassium and can provide you with the much-needed energy boost right after an intense workout as well.
Always Include Stretching as an Important Part of Your Workout
Novice bodybuilding and fitness practitioners typically fail to understand the importance of performing warm-up exercises immediately before getting right down to the more serious business of working out. For many, stretching just gets in the way to optimizing their time in the gym. They’d rather head to the bench press or even the weights as soon as they walk through the gym door.
Unfortunately, not warming the muscles and joints before engaging in intense exercises can have disastrous consequences. Not only are tissue injuries more likely to occur, reaping the maximum benefits of exercises may not even be possible at all. Stretching not only warms up the muscle tissues in time for the intense exercises. It also helps increase the space within the joints, allowing them to move with greater ease and in their maximum range of motion. This way, you’re able to execute the different exercises with relative ease since you have prepared the muscles to become pliable and the joints to attain optimum flexibility.
Stretching is equally important right after the workout. During intense exercises, your muscles will be subjected to repetitive contractions and relaxations that many muscle tissue groups can be knotted. Stretching can help relieve the tension that may have already built up in the muscle tissues. Relieving muscle tension can help avoid severe muscle soreness later on. It’s like helping the muscles go back to their normal pre-workout state in a more gradual manner.
It is, therefore, necessary that you add 20 minutes of stretching right after finishing your last set of intense exercise before you call it a day.
Include Light Activities During Muscle Recovery Periods
During recovery periods, your body will try to repair damaged tissues and prepare them for regeneration and rebuilding. While most folks will consider resting as an integral part of the recovery period, restricting yourself to your bed can also have serious repercussions.
As already mentioned, recovery means to repair and rebuild. But how do you expect this to occur if you confine yourself to the comfort of your bed? Becoming physically inactive after the heavy workout can prolong the time it would take for the body to completely recover. The reason is simple. Physical inactivity leads to sluggish blood circulation. All the building blocks, as well as reparative substances needed for tissue repair and rebuilding, are delivered to the muscle tissues by the blood. But how can you expect these nutrients to be delivered if blood circulation is sluggish?
It is for this reason that light physical activities during the recovery period can greatly help in the faster recovery and rebuilding of the muscles. You can walk to the grocery store instead of driving your car. You can even invite your son and daughter to play Frisbee with you. You can also take your bike on a gentle ride throughout the neighborhood. These light activities can help improve blood circulation which can also relieve some of the muscle soreness you may still have.
Focus on the Quality of Your Sleep
Numerous literature has already been written about the relationship between quality of sleep and quality of life. Unfortunately, despite the presence of a mountain of evidence showing the benefits of having good sleep, very few individuals can adhere to the golden 8-hour rule. It is not necessarily because they aren’t aware of it, but rather other life activities often take up the precious time that is supposed to be allotted for sleep. Most will go to bed already close to midnight at a time when the body should have already completed its repairs. By the time the reparative processes begin to kick in, the body will have to wake up to face another day.
Human growth hormone is one of those critical substances that are necessary for the repair of body tissues. It is not only important in the growth of children, but also in the continuing development of different tissues. In adults, this hormone helps lay the foundation for the repair of tissues so that they will regenerate a lot more successfully. Sadly, the activity of this hormone peaks when we are deep asleep. So how do you expect your muscles to be repaired and rebuilt if you don’t allow this hormone to do its stuff?
Highly active individuals, especially those who work out, need at least 9 hours of good quality sleep. Why? They have more tissue damage that requires more extensive repairs. The longer and deeper the sleep, the better it is for human growth hormone to facilitate the effective repair and recovery of these tissues. Removing distractions in your bedroom should help you fall asleep a lot faster.
Manage Your Stress Levels
Stress is a major theme in many health issues that plague mankind. When it comes to recovering after the workout, too high-stress levels can rob you of the energy resources needed for tissue repair and regeneration. Instead of the energy being directed towards the repair and rebuilding of damaged muscle tissues, this will be used up fueling the psychological and emotional component of stress.
If you are under stress you may not find the right motivation to keep up with your workout regimen. Chronic stress can also amplify the abuse that intense workouts place on your body, effectively increasing the amount of time needed to recover.
You are also more prone to injuries which can further put unnecessary strain on your recovery. Managing stress is not only important in terms of recovering from the workout, however. Its effective management can have tremendous benefits on other aspects of your wellbeing.
Recovering from your workout is crucial to optimizing the many benefits of exercise. Good nutrition, plenty of sleep, managing stress, and employing sensible workout techniques can help you optimize both your exercise and the recovery that follows.