In all the talk around the various different types of exercise and workouts, sometimes muscle recovery can get lost, or at least pushed out of the forefront of people’s minds. Make no mistake about it though, recovery is no less essential to strengthening muscles after a workout than protein.
Recovery should include post-workout protein, but most people already know that. What is often forgotten, however, is the necessity of resting muscles following an intense exercise. Rest can mean a lot of different things when it comes to recovery.
Sleep is crucial for maximizing muscle recovery, both from a pre-workout and post-workout standpoint. This is particularly relevant when it comes to weight-training, but is true for all forms of exercise. Yes, you need plenty of protein before and after a workout, but without enough sleep, overtraining, soreness, and muscle inflammation become especially vulnerable possibilities.
Other forms of recovery include: cold baths (specifically ice baths), foam rollers (read more about foam rolling here — link to Eric Ethridge article), and even cryotherapy. Compression garments are also popular now for their ability to put pressure on muscle fibers during a workout, supposedly aiding in recovery and potentially even enhancing performance – although, the scientific jury is still out on this trendy type of exercise gear. You don’t need a hyperbaric chamber or even a pair of Lululemon tights to understand the necessity of rest and recovery in building strong muscles.
Here to help is longtime Generation Active contributor Gideon Akande, a world class motivator, fitness influencer, and personal trainer. Having been named Men’s Health “Next Top Trainer,” his services are always in high demand, so he understands the temptation to skimp on recovery due to busyness. However, he also knows the importance of overcoming that temptation and giving his mind, body and muscles a break from their daily exercise routine.
“Work hard, yes, but rest is best,” Gideon says. “During exercise, your body undergoes micro tears. This damage is necessary in order for the muscle to repair itself and come back stronger.”
Because our society is all about efficiency, it may sometimes feel counterintuitive to sleep in or rest for the sake of recovery. However, this is only because we often fail to grasp the necessity of muscle recovery in rest after a workout. In reality, allowing your muscles to recover and repair after exercise is the most efficient way to build muscle! All the protein in the world cannot supplant the recovery process.
Rest allows your body to recover faster, so that you can give even more during your next workout.”
One smart way to structure recovery into your weekly workout routine is to establish rest days (or recovery days). This does not mean you ought to be sedentary, but it does imply a refrain from pushing your body to its maximum exertion potential. This will give your muscles a break from stress and strain, allowing them to rebuild and recover. Rest days may even be used exclusively for a particular muscle group. This is often the case with weightlifting, when someone might exercise his/her biceps on a day when their glutes, quads, and hamstrings are amid the recovery process following a leg workout the day prior.
Once you start to prioritize recovery the way most people do with their protein intake, you will begin to improvement in muscle growth and overall workout results. Additionally, you may also notice a decrease in soreness and inflammation following intense exercise.
Check out the video below to hear Gideon elaborate on the importance of recovery, or see how he can blast your abs in in this article.
•@MensHealthMag Top Trainer •2x Chicago Golden Gloves champ?
•Master Motivator and Wellness Expert