Working out naturally leads to the breakdown of muscles and protein strands called myofibrils. Damaged muscle tissues are fused and repaired, creating thicker, more abundant myofibrils, which ultimately means larger, stronger muscles. However, this process of repairing muscles requires periods of rest. While resting may not seem ideal when you want to gain strength and lose fat, there are numerous things you can do to increase your muscle recovery.
- Perform isometric exercises on rest days.
If you have to exercise on your rest days, trade your intense, heavy weight lifting for gentle isometrics. These exercises are designed to stretch and build strength without any movement. Planks are a common example, forcing you to hold a position that contracts your muscles without increasing intensity or placing excess impact on your joints. Isometric exercises can help to maintain the flow of blood and nutrients to your muscles for faster recovery.
- Eat protein before bed and after waking.
Some studies have found that eating a high protein meal before bed contributes to muscle recovery while you sleep. When you wake up, drink a protein shake or have a protein-rich breakfast to fuel your muscles, enhance the rebuilding process and reduce food cravings for the rest of the day. Focus on healthy “isolate” proteins, such as lean meats, eggs, oatmeal, whey, milk and yogurt.
- Massage your muscles.
If you can’t find someone to give you a massage, use a foam roller to break down the scar tissue and tightness in your muscles and joints. Knots in your fascia, a layer of tissue enveloping your muscles and organs, cause aches that can keep you out of the gym for longer. Spend up to a minute before and after bed and throughout the day rolling or massaging sore muscles to relieve pain and tightness.
- Get plenty of sleep.
Sleep is the opportune time for your body to repair muscles and synthesize protein strands. Research shows that not getting enough sleep prolongs your recovery and negatively impacts your overall health and physical performance. Prolonged sleep deprivation also makes you more prone to injury in the future. Develop a sleep routine, and aim to get at least eight hours of uninterrupted, quality sleep each night. Consult your doctor if you suffer from fitful sleep or other sleep issues.
- Stretch and work your joints.
Stretching helps to relieve tight muscles, promote recovery and prevent injuries later on. Along with stretching, move your arms, hands and legs in low-intensity circles. The opening and closing of your joints encourages production of synovia, expelling scar tissue and waste while lubricating and hydrating your joints. Simply rotate clockwise and counterclockwise, making sure not to hyperextend to prevent overuse injuries and sore joints.
- Stay hydrated.
Dehydration exacerbates muscle pain and can lengthen the time it takes for your muscles to recover. Drinking enough water also flushes out toxins that may accumulate in your muscles and joints. General consensus suggests that you drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day, equating to about two liters, but you may require slightly more water on days you exercise.
- Consider using supplements.
Supplements can provide your muscles with essential nutrients for improved muscle recovery. mTOR PRO™ from MYOKEM™ offers a combination of branched-chain amino acids and essential amino acids to enhance recovery while improving overall performance, stamina, and hydration.
Recovery times vary from person to person based on factors including age, gender and personal fitness. If you follow the tips above, you can return to the gym sooner than you think.