Muscle Recovery – Keys to Speeding Your Recovery
If you’re looking to build bigger, stronger muscles, then you probably already know that exercise and strength training is absolutely essential, but with the additional training comes muscle soreness.
The more you practice proper muscle building techniques (such as Time Under Tension) and the more you challenge yourself with heavier weights and intense routines, the more effective your individual workouts become. And the more you may feel sore and tired.
However, what you do after your workout is just as important as what you do during your workout. If you’re not giving your muscle the nutrients they need to recover, you’ll spend more time on the couch than you will in the gym while you try to recover from the soreness.
Keep reading to find out how you can cut down your muscle recovery time.
Protein, Protein, Protein
One of the primary benefits of a protein powder is muscle recovery. A protein shake right after a strenuous exercise can help you dramatically speed the muscle building process.
Without sufficient protein, the muscle can even begin to get broken down by the body, this is known as Catabolism.
Catabolism can leave muscles in a weakened state and can increase cortisol levels, making it difficult for you to recover after intense exercise. Additionally, breaking down protein for fuel can put extra stress on the kidneys because it has to work harder to eliminate the byproducts of protein breakdown.
In the same way, the body needs to fuel up on carbohydrates within a few hours after exercise, the body also needs extra protein as well to speed muscle recovery and stimulate the production of bigger, stronger muscles.
In a study conducted at Vanderbilt University, athletes were divided into two groups and given protein-carbohydrate supplements. The first group took the supplement immediately after working out and the second took the supplement three hours later. Members of the first group synthesized new muscle proteins at a much faster rate than members of the second.
Using a protein powder or recovery drink such as the ones listed on this site can ensure that your muscle proteins are rebuilt with maximum efficiency.
Energize with Electrolytes
Electrolytes are unique minerals in your blood that can carry an electric charge and they are crucial for carrying electrical impulses to the nerves, muscles, and other cells. Additionally, electrolytes help to regulate how and where fluids are distributed throughout the body, so you can continue to perform at your peak. (Sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium are all examples of electrolytes.)
However, when you participate in intense physical activity, those electrolytes can be lost through your sweat. When electrolytes become imbalanced, you may experience symptoms such as a rapid heart rate, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, trembling, confusion, or even loss of consciousness.
A wide variety of sports drinks can help replace the fluids and electrolytes you lose during exercise, but restoring them is a slow process, so you have to continue to drink long after you’ve finished exercising.
Experts recommend that athletes weigh themselves before and after exercise to determine the amount of fluid lost through physical activity and then focus on drinking the same amount within 30-45 minutes of completing a workout.
Fuel Up with Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are your best source of fuel – whether you’re an athlete needing an extra boost for muscle recovery or a dieter looking to trim down.
When carbohydrates are broken down, they break into smaller sugars such as glucose, fructose, and galactose that get absorbed and used as energy. Any glucose your body doesn’t need right away is stored in the muscles and liver in the form of glycogen. Once these stores are filled, the extra glucose is stored as fat.
Glycogen in particular is the most often used source of fuel for intense, short bursts of physical activity (such as weight lifting), and it can supply the body with energy for the first few minutes of exercise.
For longer exercise sessions, the body turns to fat as a fuel source as well, but glycogen is still necessary for the breakdown of fat into useable energy.
It can take hours to replenish glycogen stores through carbohydrate consumption, but only 20 minutes for sugars to be broken down into glucose.
Studies have shown most athletes can ingest carbs at a maximum rate of 1.2 grams per minute (without suffering gastric upset), but can burn glycogen up to three times this rate by exercising at anaerobic threshold intensity, which is why it’s so important to fuel the body with carbohydrates within the first two hours after exercise (as well as through a well-balanced diet of carbohydrates, protein, and fat throughout the rest of the day).
What’s the recommended amount of carbs after exercise? One gram of carbohydrate per pound of body weight, as well as 1 gram of protein for every four grams of carbs (for example: a 160 lb. athlete would consume 160 grams of carbs and 40 grams of protein).
Almost anyone who begins working out after an extended break from exercise is going to be sore, but with the right steps you can recover faster to get right back at it. As you help your muscles recover faster, you’ll be able to exercise more and see the benefits much faster.