You work out hard. You go to depth on every squat and push your reverse lunges to failure. Your hamstrings burn, and your quads are beaten. Although your workout was very intense, it seems as it didn’t build an ounce of muscle. So, what is your problem? The truth is that muscle growth begins not during the workout, but the very moment you stop lifting. You can’t grow without proper muscle recovery. In order to have a body you have always dreamed about, you must treat muscle recovery equally as your workouts.
When you lift, your muscles tear a bit and actually break down. After exercising, your body begins to repair and grow muscle, but it needs your help. Learn how to maximize recovery to get the most out of every workout.
Don’t Push the Barrier Too Hard
Pushing beyond your limits is recommended, but only if you know how far to push. Engage your muscles just enough to stimulate muscle growth, not to destroy it to the point where your muscles will hurt for days. If you push you’re your limits too much, all your body’s energy will not go into muscle growth but to repair the damage you have created.
Focus on Pre-Workout Nutrition
The foods you eat after your workout and throughout the day are essential for proper recovery. Eat high-quality, lean protein with some complex carbohydrates, and consume your meals at least two hours before exercising. Potassium-rich foods are also great for replenishing your muscular energy.
Don’t Skip Stretching
Stretching often doesn’t seem necessary, but you definitely need it not only for recovery but also for proper muscle growth. Without having adequate flexibility, you will short yourself on muscular gains in many complex exercises.
For example, when your ankles are tight, you can’t go deep enough in a squat. After a workout, also make sure you cool down and stretch. This will help you relieve muscular tension and the soreness you experience later.
Focus On Quality Sleep
Getting some quality sleep is entirely logical to all fitness enthusiasts, but the fact is that most people still get less than six hours of sleep per night. Rest will not only help you relax but also lower the downtime that your body needs to restore itself. Neglecting sleep will lead make you feel weak, unable to focus and it will definitely severely impact your training sessions.
To get the most out of your workouts, it is best to sleep at least seven hours a night. Developing healthy sleep habits is the key of making sure you get enough shut-eye every night, and catching quality ZZZs will over time help you build muscles faster and get the most out of every exercise and workout session.
Do Some Active Recovery
Resting is excellent for muscle recovery, but light movement also helps. Light cardio will stimulate your blood flow and relieve muscle soreness by improving circulation to them. In order to recover, you don’t have to spend the entire day in bed. Walking to the store, going on a bike ride or swimming also promotes healthy recovery.
Acute stress like the one created from exercising is healthy. However, chronic stress that comes from inadequate sleep or work deadlines is not good, and may actually prolong your recovery time. If you are stressed working out hard will only make you feel worse. Until you manage your stress levels, it is best to do something you really enjoy. If you don’t feel like exercising, skip a day or two and do something that will make you happy.