We’ve all had that feeling. You put your heart and soul into that workout, feeling drained yet fulfilled from the effort. You know your muscles are going to grow from this. So you go home, shower off, have a good meal, and eventually drift off into sleep, dreaming of the gains. The next day however is nothing like you imagined. Every muscle group is stiff and aching. You swear you can hear the individual muscle fibers berating you for the work you put them through. I’m here to assure you that this is normal and also that it is recoverable. Below, we’ve put together some simple steps you can follow in order to speed up your recovery time and ensure that all your hard work pays off.
I’ll sleep when I’m dead
In a world obsessed with hustle culture and 4am billionaire routines, sleep tends to fall by the wayside. While moving your wakeup time forward a few hours may help you feel more productive, it may also be sabotaging your recovery capabilities. Sleep is the single most important aspect of your gym recovery. While you’re relaxing away beneath those warm covers, your body is fast at work repairing your damaged muscle fibers. The best way to make sure you get the most out of this time is to keep your room as cool as possible and remove any disturbing lights or sounds. This will help you fall asleep quicker and stay asleep longer. It can also be incredibly helpful to reduce blue light exposure from your phone or tv in the hour before bed. Saving the most beneficial sleep tip for last, we have getting 7-9 hours in as the most important factor for muscle recovery. Your body needs time to heal, and giving it what it needs will help you out immensely.
Fueling the rebuild
Now the sleep box is checked, we can move on to what you need to be doing in the kitchen. There are countless diet models to follow and different eating routines that promise the best results. Like everything important though, it comes down to the fundamentals. Protein and carbohydrates are particular areas of emphasis when it comes to recovery. Protein has its obvious benefit in being the macronutrient that directly provides the resources necessary to build up new muscle. Carbohydrates, however, are just as impactful. When you workout, you burn through all of the glycogen stores in your muscles, leaving them drained and hungry. A high carb meal after exercise serves to turbocharge these powerhouses with the fuel they need for the next workout. Don’t skimp on your nutrition if you’re dying for maximum performance on your next killer workout.
Get that blood flowing
When your body is feeling like fire and your muscles are stiffer than a tree, the last thing you feel like doing is more work. Yet, getting up and moving those burning limbs is what’s going to make them perform a lot better. Going for a walk or doing some light stretching will do far more for your recovery than lying in bed all day. Keep it simple, making a few laps around the block to get that blood moving and circulating, and your aching muscles will thank you.
You don’t need anything special when you’re trying to recover from a workout. The human body is a hyper-efficient machine that does most of the repair work without you having to intervene. Still, sticking to these three fundamentals will greatly accelerate this miraculous process. Get moving, get fueling, and get sleeping, and you’ll be amazed at what your body can do.