I’ve been pushing myself pretty hard over the last couple of weeks. I’m trying to get myself back on track this year – after indulging way too much over the holidays – and I have some new goals I want to reach this year beyond what I accomplished last year. It has motivated me to give absolutely everything to my workouts.
Still, a hardcore workout session means that I need to recover more than I did with less intense exercise. I continually remind myself of how important it is to recover between my workouts because the last thing I want to do is set myself back. Without the right amount of recovery time, strength and fitness doesn’t improve nearly as quickly, and I risk injuring myself. Since that’s not in the plan, I looked to science to make my recovery as fast and efficient as possible. That way, I can get back to my workouts and get the results I want as soon as possible.
The following are some of my favorite muscle recovery techniques after my most intense workouts:
• Saunas or hot tubs – I personally prefer saunas because hot tub water is disgusting both in terms of chlorine content and bodily fluids. Still, if you have your own, and you know it’s cleaner than the ones I have access to, you may want to use it. For me, it’s the sauna all the way. Studies have shown it help to boost human growth hormone (HGH) release, which helps muscles to heal better. Plus, the added heat helps to activate heat sensitive proteins (HSP) which also speeds recovery by supporting antioxidant action in the cells and beating damaging free radicals.
• Sleep – Making sleep a priority, especially on the day after an intense workout, is a great way to give muscles everything they need to heal up and recover. Sleep provides rest, recovery, and the adequate release of healing hormones including HGH. My hardcore workout days are always ended with a soothing bedtime routine that will get me into the kind of sleep I need for the best results.
• No alcohol – This may be a pain in the backside, but alcohol is nothing but problematic when attempting to recover from a workout. Not only does it cause harm to my sleep (yes, I can get to sleep, but it’s typically broken and not nearly as restful) but it also dehydrates and reduces the rate of healing.
Of course, I also focus on hydration and following up the workout with protein, but those are the basics and I thought I’d share some of the less typical methods I like the most.