5 best hacks for a quicker recovery after a workout
You want to work out and get to the finish line as quickly as possible. We get it!
Some people find it easier to motivate themselves to work out than others. But we know that muscle soreness and subsequent recovery can slow your workout plans down.
And as you get older, this can become even harder as our muscles need longer to repair.
We need adequate rest periods for our muscles to strengthen, so how can we keep on track and reduce the amount of “downtime” due to sore muscles?
Why do muscles hurt after exercise?
Muscle soreness is a natural reaction to working out. If your muscles are sore after exercise, then you can be proud that you’ve done the job you went to the gym for. The soreness can disrupt your exercise but will usually disappear in a day or two. When we exercise, our muscles extend and contract to support the movement of our exercise.
Tiny tears will occur when the muscles are overworked, leading to soreness, particularly when pushing harder than usual or working a new muscle group. The main reasons for muscle soreness are
A change in the usual physical activity
Pushing harder than usual
Working out more often
Working new muscle groups
Muscle soreness usually occurs several hours after a workout, and this condition is often referred to as DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). It’s nothing to worry about, as it’s simply a natural reaction to the microscopic fibre tears which occur during exercise. The soreness is the healing process that takes place to repair the muscles and make them stronger.
Why is recovery important?
The critical thing to remember is that rest is when your muscles grow. The resistance training part is when the muscle fibres are torn. Rest is when your muscles repair, strengthen, grow, and adapt.
And it’s not just your muscles either; your heart and lungs will need to recover from any cardio workout, but in doing so, you’ll become fitter, and the next time you perform the same workout, they’ll be stronger. So don’t neglect your rest periods, as you won’t be able to achieve muscle growth without them. You’re likely to experience setbacks without an adequate rest period, including injuries. The same can be said for overtraining, leading to more than just DOMS.
How to recover from workouts more quickly.
Planning your workouts should also include adequate rest periods in between if you want to attain muscle growth. We all want to progress to the next stage as soon as possible, and waiting until the muscle soreness has subsided is a necessary part of that, but there are ways to speed up your recovery to ensure you can go through your muscle-building journey without too much interruption.
1- Do some light exercise.
Resting doesn’t necessarily mean you should do absolutely nothing. Some light exercise is perfect for getting your heart rate up slightly, as this will help to reduce the lactic acid buildup in your system and flush toxins away. Walking and swimming are perfect activities to boost your circulation and raise your heart rate slightly. They also help boost circulation and reduce the buildup of lactic acids as more oxygen-rich blood will flow to the muscles.
2- Vary your workouts.
Concentrating on different muscle groups each day will allow you to ensure there’s no break from your plan. Planning leg days or chest days means that you can move on to the next day and work on another part of your body while leaving enough time for the previous day’s muscle groups to recover.
3- Drink plenty of water.
Hydrate and rehydrate if you want to keep moving. You’ll lose plenty of water through sweat, particularly on hot days, so keep hydrated. Keeping adequately topped up with water will aid your recovery, reduce muscle soreness, and help build strength and flexibility.
If water isn’t to your taste, you can choose alternatives to add to the mix, such as green tea or low-sugar energy drinks, which can help relieve post-exercise cramps and soreness. Avoid drinks that will cause dehydration, such as those with a high sugar or caffeine content, or alcoholic drinks.
4- Eat healthy snacks.
If you want to progress with your plan as quickly as possible, you’ll need to be on top of your diet, which means cutting down on unhealthy treats. However, being selective and clever with your snacks can be a huge help. Choosing snacks that will help you overcome any hunger cravings and assist recovery is the best choice. Try to eat a healthy snack within 30 minutes of a workout to help replenish muscle energy stores. This will help to replenish your glycogen levels. Snacks containing protein and carbohydrates are perfect as the protein will help muscle recovery, and the carbs will help to restore your energy levels. Greek yoghurt, protein bars, protein shakes, wholegrain popcorn, peanuts, almonds and fruit are perfect snacks.
5- Cool down.
The cooldown is often overlooked, and some think it unnecessary, but it’s an integral part of the workout process and essential to reduce post-workout muscle soreness. A cooldown will help your heart rate decrease gradually, keeping the blood flow moving steadily instead, which will help alleviate the feeling of light-headedness that sometimes occurs post-exercise. It will also help prevent injury and help you feel more in control of your workouts and body, so it’s great for your mental health and confidence.
Reduce muscle soreness
When it comes to reducing muscle soreness, it all boils down to looking after your body and being savvy with nutrition and rest periods. If you are starting a new exercise routine, gradually ease into it to avoid injury risk and give yourself a chance to adapt.
Eat healthy snacks between workouts and switch muscle groups each day wherever possible to continue working out while resting other parts of your body. Always cool down for at least 10 minutes after each workout and hydrate, hydrate and hydrate again!
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