What to Do After a Workout To Improve Muscle Recovery
by Evelyn Valdez·
As an active person, you probably already know that half the hard work is done at the gym, and the other half is done outside of it. Eating healthy, resting properly, and taking care of your body in general are what will make your gains truly show.
In order to have effective workout sessions and actually see your progress, you need to make sure that your muscles recover properly in between workouts. This means doing what you can to make the muscle repair process easier for your body, and luckily there are many ways to do this!
We’ll show you what helps with muscle recovery after each workout so you can avoid post-workout soreness and even unwanted injuries. This way, you can keep making progress in your fitness journey without any setbacks!
Have a cool-down session
Warming up before a workout is crucial to get your heart pumping and make sure your muscles are ready to get moving, but a cool-down session is just as important to ensure a proper recovery!
Taking a few minutes after each workout to do some light cardio followed by static stretching will help release all the accumulated tension from your muscles, as well as reduce the lactic acid build-up in order to prevent that unwanted post-workout soreness and stiffness.
Make sure to stretch the muscles that you worked the hardest to improve blood flow in those areas – but don’t overdo it! Excessive stretching can leave you even sorer, so stick to light stretching and gentle movements, and leave dynamic stretching for your warm-ups.
Cooling down properly isn’t just a good way to improve and speed up muscle recovery, but it also helps increase your overall mobility which will help you tackle tougher workouts in the future. So make sure to have a proper cool-down session at the end of every workout!
Give your muscles a good massage
Another great way to release tension from your muscles post-workout is massaging them, no matter which method you prefer.
You can choose to do foam rolling, known as self-myofascial release, by rolling your muscles with a foam roller to help get rid of the stiffness and reduce lactic acid build-up. A good tip is to get on top of the foam roller so that your body weight increases the pressure on your muscles!
You can also go for a regular massage and use your hands to exert pressure on your muscles, particularly on the ones that you trained during your last workout session. Booking a massage session every once in a while is also a good way to help your whole body relax and improve muscle recovery!
Drink enough water
Wasn’t isn’t only refreshing, but it also has an important role in all body functions, including the muscle repair process!
When you exercise, you lose a lot of water and electrolytes through sweat, both of which you need to help regulate muscle function and your nervous system. Additionally, water is what helps transport nutrients throughout your body, such as carrying protein over to damaged muscle tissue that needs repair.
Water also helps flush out toxins that promote muscle soreness and cramping, and it helps you literally cool down after each workout by lowering your body temperature. So make sure to stay hydrated not only post-workout but also before and during each session to improve and speed up the muscle repair process!
Along with water, your body needs nutrients to stay in tip-top shape and to be able to recover properly after a tough workout session, which is why you need to refuel with healthy foods after each workout.
When it comes to muscle recovery foods, there are two nutrients that you need to prioritize: protein and carbohydrates. Protein is the building block of muscle tissue, in charge of repairing all muscle damage that was caused during exercise, which is why it’s so important for an active person to have a protein-rich diet.
Carbs, on the other hand, get transformed into glycogen which is what your body uses as fuel for your workouts. After a workout, when you’ve depleted your glycogen stores and you still need energy for the recovery process, it’s important to replenish those levels by eating some carbs.
Whole foods are the best source of these nutrients, but you can also get these nutrients through muscle-recovery supplements such as protein powders and BCAAs. Just make sure to replenish your nutrient levels so that your body can take care of the rest!
Get enough sleep
During sleep is when the true magic happens! Not only because you get to rest after a long day, but because of all the processes that your body goes through at night.
During a certain sleep phase, your body starts regulating hormone production, increasing and decreasing hormones accordingly. The production of the stress hormone, for example, is decreased, while the production of the growth hormone increases, aiding in tissue growth and muscle repair.
Additionally, your blood flow is increased during this phase, allowing for nutrients and oxygen to reach your muscles more efficiently. So, in order to keep growth hormone production high and make sure that your muscles are getting fully repaired, make sure to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep every night!
Prioritize active recovery
Active recovery exercises, such as jogging around the park or doing yoga, are one of the best ways to speed up muscle recovery.
This is because during physical activity you keep your body moving and your blood flowing, instead of staying still until your next workout. Nutrients are transported through the blood, so a constant blood flow will help them get where they need to be more efficiently.
That said, just because it’s better to keep your muscles moving as an active person doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t give your muscles a full rest day! Completely resting your muscles every 7-10 days allows your muscles to reset and helps you feel both physically and mentally refreshed.
Take care of your muscles by taking care of yourself
The basis of muscle recovery is getting enough nutrients, drinking plenty of water, and resting properly, which are all self-care activities that you should always do regardless of activity level! Of course, if you’re working extra hard for your gains, you should take extra care of yourself, so make sure to always have these tips in mind.
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