The road to bigger and stronger muscles means getting the proper recovery.
Contrary to what most people believe, your muscles don’t grow in the gym.
You might get a solid pump, and your muscles will become engorged with blood and look larger, but the actual growth doesn’t happen until after your workouts finished.
If you have poor habits post workout, your recovery will suffer.
Picking up good habits is essential for muscle building but also for all other aspects of life.
Remember bodybuilding and fitness is a 24/7 365 day a year job. It doesn’t stop at any point in time.
You must commit to your goals and revolve your lifestyle around it.
Here are some recovery tips you can implement so you can keep improving your lifts and grow your muscles.
Eat More Fruits And Veggies
Plants contain natural healing properties that you can’t get anywhere else.
Superfoods like kale, spinach, pumpkin seeds, blueberries, goji berries, and quinoa are all excellent post workout recovery foods.
Make sure one of these is abundant in each one of your meals every single day. You’ll notice the difference both short and long term.
When eating such healthy foods that boost your immune system and your body’s health, it increases your body’s ability to recover both better and faster.
It’s not difficult to add a bowl of frozen mixed berries into your diet once or twice a day.
I generally consume one every morning with my breakfast and every evening with my dinner.
Berries are packed with fiber, anti-oxidants, and a high amount of nutrients.
Buying them frozen allows the berries to retain more of their nutrients and they’ll also last much longer without rotting or spoiling.
Get 8 Hours Of Deep Sleep
Your muscles literally recover and grow during sleep, so don’t neglect it.
Pulling all-nighters or going to bed at 4 a.m. after being on your computer all night will reverse the effects of your gains.
Your average Joe needs a minimum of 6 hours of sleep per night, but for mass and strength gainers, you need more.
I recommend getting 8-9 hours of quality sleep every single night, even on the weekends.
How do you make sure your sleep is of good or excellent quality?
By staying off your electronic devices at least 2 hours before you crawl into bed.
Blue light is a sleep killer, and even if you fall asleep right after you get off your phone, computer, or tv, that damage has already been done.
Blue light messes with our circadian rhythm, which is our bodys ability to tell night from day.
The blue light emitted from screens resembles the daytime light shined by our sun. By going on a screen even just a few hours before bed, our mind and body will still feel awake.
This prevents us from getting a really good deep night’s sleep, and leads to less muscle recovery.
So if you want gains, stay off your phone or other device you use before bed.
Do Some Yoga
If your gym offers yoga classes, I highly suggest you take up a class on one of your non-lifting days.
If not, look into finding a yoga place around your local area/town.
If both options above fail, go onto YouTube and start doing your own yoga practice at home. It won’t be nearly as effective, but you’ll still reap a lot of benefits.
Yoga is practice that will have you feeling better mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
After taking my first yoga class I realized why so many successful people practice it.
The tension and stress from your body is released and you feel like a new person!
You start to embrace the present and enjoy the moment for what it is.
The stretching and constant movement from yoga allows the blood and nutrients to circulate to your muscles.
Stretching also helps release the soreness from people who might be suffering from some bad DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness).
I would not suggest doing yoga right before a workout, as it’ll impair your ability to lift super heavy, although doing if a few hours after a workout is very ideal.
Stretching and yoga is a great way to help heal the body and lower the inflammation, so give it a try and let me know how it works!
Consume Quality Protein
We all know protein is what makes our muscles grow.
But just eating the same food for every meal might not be the most beneficial.
Make sure you’re getting an abundant amount of protein from multiple different sources so you get a rich amino acid profile.
The more colorful your plate looks, the healthier it will generally be.
Do so by incorporating, beans, tofu, seitan, kale, spinach, quinioa, pumpkin seeds, and goji berries for an ample amount of protein.
Also make sure you hit your protein goal every single day. Consistency is key.
Your protein intake should range from .6.-75 grams per pound of body weight per day.
For a 200 pound male, this means consuming between 120 and 150 grams of protein a day.
If your protein intake is too low, you can expect your body and muscles to recover poorly.
So make sure you eat some protein at every meal!
Hot Tubs and Ice Baths
I’ve personally never tried this technique but I’ve heard wonders about it.
You first start off in a hot tub or hot bath.
The temperature should be very warm and relaxing. After around 10 minutes you hop into an ice bath or freezing cold water.
You spend another 10 minutes in the ice bath then hop out and jump back into the hot tub.
Rinse and repeat for a few more times.
Now I don’t know the exact science behind it, but I’ve heard many strongmen like Brian Shaw, Hafthor Bjornsson, and the young Larry Wheels are all fans of this technique.
Apparently, the hot/cold combination works to remove all soreness and fatigue from the body after a workout and help the muscles recover.
Strongmen are big fans of the hot/cold combo so they’re 100% and ready to go for the next day of training.
If you’re interested in seeing or learning more, check out this video by Larry Wheels on the hot/cold recovery.
Take A Day Off
Training at 100% every day takes its toll.
That’s why you should not be training every single day.
Rest days are just as important if not more important than training days.
Get rid of the ego and focus on what’s actually going to improve your body.
Hate me for saying this, but you shouldn’t be a ‘gym rat’ and spend all day working out.
Training sessions should only last around an hour if you ask me.
That being said, you shouldn’t work out more than 2 days in a row, especially if you train for strength and push yourself very hard.
Your body needs to recover, specifically your central nervous system.
“Central nervous system (CNS) fatigue is a concern mentioned by powerlifters and other athletes. They fear lifting heavy weights too often near their one-rep max.”
Deadlifting every day is only going to slow you down.
I know they say volume equates to more muscle mass, but that doesn’t hold true if you don’t let your muscles recover.
Take the day off and relax, your body will thank you.
Drink Lots Of Water
Your body needs to stay hydrated. It’s not just good for your overall health and preventing certain types of cancer.
It’s excellent for muscle recovery!
Water transports nutrients to your cells and helps form protein structures.
Without any water, protein won’t be digested as well!
Dehydration is not something you can just ignore, it happens on a cellular level.
Dehydration can lead to death. Remember you can live 3 weeks without food but only about 3 days without water.
Now I doubt that most people are dehydrated to the point of mortality, but you’d be surprised at how many people are dehydrated during their daily routine.
How do you prevent your dehydration?
By carrying a water bottle wherever you go!
Whether it’s at work, school, in your car, on your desk, or at the gym, constantly carrying a water bottle is an instant reminder that you need some quality H2O in your system.
Get Some Light Activity
A great way to get some aided recovery for your sore or exhausted muscles is to do some light activity the day after.
Get your heart beating and your blood pumping.
Let the blood and nutrients circulate to your muscles. This is why I suggested to do yoga.
Some great ways you can get active are:
- A light jog or walk
- Jump rope
- Row machine
Even better, you can perform these activities outside and get the benefit of breathing in some fresh air and getting some sun.
You’ll feel better both physically and mentally.
Light exercise is also great for people with extremely sore muscles.
You may be tempted to sit on the bed or couch all day if your muscles are super sore. But this is one of the worst thing you can do.
Movement (as long as it’s not too rigorous) triggers the body into more of a recovery mode than sitting does.
Eat Enough Calories
Whatever your goal, bulking or cutting, it’s important to get the required calories on a daily basis.
If you’ve already read many of my articles, you’d know that you need to eat in a caloric surplus when bulking and a caloric deficit when cutting.
Although a small caloric surplus is the best way to build muscle, there’s no reason you can’t maintain muscle or even gain a little when cutting.
Regardless, getting enough calories to fuel your workouts and your post-workout recovery is a must.
When bulking, the best way to recover is by getting around 16-18 times your bodyweight in calories.
When cutting, try to aim for around 11-13 times your bodyweight.
Food is fuel and more calories in than out is better than no calories in.
Don’t skip out on meals and most certainly do not skip out on quality food.
You can eat junk food like chips and soda that’s high in calories but they’ll never amount to consuming high calorie-high quality foods like beans, tofu, nuts, and seeds.
Eat right, recover right.
Stress is a killer.
Not only is it responsible for a wide variety of diseases, cancer, depression, and anxiety, but it burns up muscle… Literally.
Stress produces cortisol, a hormone that’s a no-no for us fitness freaks.
Cortisol reduces protein synthesis and prevents tissue growth. Avoid it as much as possible by not stressing!
Try meditating, going for walk, or finding your happy place. Just don’t stress!
Another important thing to avoid is alcohol.
Not only does it weaken the body’s immune system but it also lowers testosterone, the main hormone needed for increasing muscle growth.
I get it. Alcohol can be a fun time with your friends, but the next day will be a headache for you.
Your recovery will suffer and it will be almost impossible to work out.
In fact, you should probably take the day off to RECOVER from the alcohol.
Even a few drinks can be consequential to your recover.
If you do decide to drink, make sure you drink the same amount of alcohol as water.
This will reverse the bad effects and keep you from getting too dehydrated, which is nothing your muscles want to be a part of.
Sauna or Steam Room
I love pairing the sauna with my yoga practice.
After I finished a great yoga class, I head over to my gyms sauna.
It feels fantastic.
It really helps relax your body and muscles, even though it can be difficult to stay in from more than a few minutes.
The sauna also increases your bloods circulation and relieves stress.
Give it a go once a week if it’s available to you.
Take Some CBD Oil
If you have some really bad pain or soreness from working out, try the new craze that’s sweeping the nation… CBD oil!
No, it’s not weed and it won’t get you high.
CBD is non-psychoactive but contains all the amazing healing properties from both the marijuana and hemp plant.
Not only is it used to treat people with cancer, insomnia, anxiety, and depression. It is also great for pain and soreness during recovery from injury.
This can also be applied to post workout recovery.
It also helps people tremendously in order to fall asleep and get better quality of sleep.
I personally tried some PureKanna Vegan CBD Infused Gummies and they’ve help me sleep so well!
Give it a try and see how you like it.
Like I said, it won’t get you high. These gummies don’t even come from the marijuana plant.
Instead, they’re made in concentration from hemp, which is completely legal in all 50 states as long as it has less than 0.3% THC.
Pop one right after a grueling workout and you’ll feel relaxed all day!