Muscles need a certain amount of time in order to fully strengthen and repair post-workout.  For an effective Muscle Recovery and Growth regimen, follow these 5 scientifically proven ways to improve the process. 

 

1. Sleep

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Rest allows the opportunity for your muscles to repair, recharge, and regrow.  It is during sleep where Growth Hormone (GH) levels are at their highest, thus allowing for your muscles to adequately recover.  During the recovery process, your body is allowed to replenish the nutrients that have been depleted and exhausted, reconstruct the muscle fibers that have been stressed, and regenerate muscle functionality so that you can therefore improve muscle capability and performance.  Aim to get 7-8 hours of sleep. 

Improper recovery time can lead to…

  1. Performance plateau

  2. Risk of injury

  3. Reduced performance (strength, endurance, flexibility)

Strength and muscle gains actually occur outside the gym, during periods of rest!

 

2. Consume Protein

This is a no-brainer.  Protein is the building block of muscle tissue, and without it, you’ll hamper the recovery phase.  If you’re serious about gains, then you should be investing in quality whey isolate to see a difference.  Depending on your bodyweight, you should be striving for 20-50 grams of protein after each workout.  Men should aim for the upper range, while women will do fine with about 20 grams.  A 2:1 ratio of carbs to protein is suggested to be ideal.  Tailor your protein intake to your individualized training regimen.

Immediately following your workout, your body begins the recovery process, how effective is up to you..

 

3. Get Your Water On

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 So how much water should you be drinking on a daily basis to maintain proper hydration? This question greatly depends on the duration and intensity of your exercise*, however; the Institute of Medicine (U.S.) recommends that men consume on average 3.0 liters and women 2.2 liters, while pregnant and breastfeeding women should increase these amounts to 2.4 and 3.0, respectively.

Inadequate consumption of water can lead to…

  1. During a workout: possible muscle damage/risk of injury

  2. Inhibit muscle repair, thus reducing performance potential

  3. Delay the recovery process

*One source recommended roughly 1L of water for every 1000 calories expended

Planned recovery and down time are just as important as building muscle and strength

 

4. Stretching

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To give you some ideas, here are some post-workout stretches

This is probably one aspect of the recovery process that is sometimes overlooked due to lack of time, patience, or awareness of its benefits.  It is important to stretch thoroughly in order to help relax tension and decrease next day soreness.  It has been suggested to allot at least 20 minutes after a workout to cool down and stretch*.  To really work on stretching your muscles, try using a foam roller on each muscle group.  If you have time, use it throughout the day.  

*Several Harvard studies have found that a total of 60 seconds should be spent on each stretching exercise to improve Muscle Recovery and Growth, either at once or in sets.

Plan for it!

 

5. Active Recovery

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Active Recovery is light exercise during the recovery phase.  In turn, this can stimulate blood flow to the muscles to help reduce pain and soreness.  Swimming provides excellent gentle resistance for your muscles and joints.  This is a great way to clear your mind, while also allowing your muscles to stretch and move without getting more worn out.  

Here are some other Active Recovery suggestions:

  • Walking/light jog

  • Easy bike ride

  • Massages

  • Yoga

If you don’t fully recover, you’re compromising improvement!

 

Technique and proper form at the gym are key factors in your quest to your individual fitness aspirations and goals.  Why not adopt these scientifically proven ways to improve the recovery process.  Working hard at the gym is only half the race, so adopt these Muscle Recovery and Growth recommendations in order to fully fortify and solidify your fitness routine.

Recover Onward!

 

Sources: Mensfitness//Harvard Health Publications//Greatist