Get back to 100 percent even faster by adopting these techniques.
Anthony Bevilacqua, C.P.T., for Muscle & Fitness 1 / 11
Get Back to 100% — Here's How
Let's face it: Hard workouts equal results. Getting a great body takes lots of sets and reps.
But all that sweat and blood (hopefully no tears) means nothing if you can't recover. (After all, muscle only grows during your recovery periods—so don't cheat yourself out of gains because you're recovering the wrong way.)
Scroll through this gallery to get best tips for building muscle outside the gym.
10: Embrace Carbs
Eighty percent of what you see in the mirror is based off your nutritional habits. Working out will trigger anabolic responses in your body responsible for muscle growth, and proper post-workout nutrition can accelerate muscle recovery and new muscle growth.
After your workout, you should be consuming a meal containing around 20 to 30 percent of your total daily carbohydrate intake. Our bodies are primed to absorb carbohydrates after a workout. Furthermore, your post-workout meal should contain 25-50 grams of protein. I prefer protein from whey isolate to help ensure it has enough leucine, thereby allowing faster protein uptake. Your post-workout meal should be under 10 grams of fat; the higher the fat content of a meal, the slower the absorption. Keeping a meal under 10 grams will ensure a quick uptake by your body.
Proper recovery doesn't just depend on what you do after a workout—it matters hours before and after your gym time. Consuming branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs)—essentially the building blocks of protein—will help your muscles recover. Five grams of BCAAs between meals ensures protein synthesis at a steady state throughout the day. Make sure your BCAAs contain around two grams of leucine for every gram of isoleucine and gram of valine.
Foam rolling breaks up little muscle adhesions that cause muscle imbalances. It can also improve your flexibility, joint function, and resistance to injury. Foam roll before and after a workout. Doing it before a workout can help you limber up and improve muscle function, while doing it after a workout can help flush out toxins and lactic acid from your muscles. Try it for at least 15 minutes every day. Doing so will help prevent injury and keep you coming back to the gym for years to come.
After a tough workout session, practice session or game, many athletes jump in ice baths. Ice baths help to bring down inflammation and allow for recovery to happen much faster. You can utilize this technique in your own program, especially if you aggravate a muscle or tendon during training.
Foam rolling isn’t the only mobility tactic you can use to help any jammed up muscle or joint you may have. Rolling on a lacrosse ball, using massaging tools, or even stretching with voodoo bands can all help you recover. Various mobility tactics help bring nutrient-rich blood to muscles that need recovery. By ensuring your muscles are clear of adhesions and improving your range of motion, you can increase your strength and improve your muscular function.
In addition to a good night's rest (if your schedule will allow it), try to get at least one 15–20 minute nap during the day. These little micro naps help to aid in recovery. Small naps are good for your heart, blood pressure, stress levels and even weight management. While we sleep our bodies repair. Faster repair means getting back to the gym faster.
Whether you want to lose body fat or gain muscle, it won't happen with training alone. Consuming a well-balanced diet will help give your body the nutrients it needs to recover from training. If your diet is lacking even one macronutrient, it will hinder your recovery ability. Try to keep your carbs, protein and fats all balanced. Avoid diets that are extreme—since without the right fuel, you'll find yourself smaller and weaker.
Don't make the mistake of thinking that you can train hard and heavy for weeks at a time. Contrary to what you might think, you can make good strength and muscular gains by taking a one-week deload period during your training. For some guys, that means taking off for a full week. Another option is to go at 60-65 percent intensity of your normal workouts for a week. These lighter workouts will allow you recover—and what's more, you'll rebound and come back stronger.
Muscle soreness occurs from lactic acid buildup in a muscle. Hence, drinking adequate amounts of water will help to flush out toxins from your muscles. Our bodies need water to function; just a slight degree of dehydration can seriously reduce your strength. Proper hydration also helps to keep our joints lubricated.
Vitamins C, D, E, plus the vitamin-like antioxidant alpha lipolic acid (ALA), are all important for the recovery process. These vitamins help to prevent damage done by free radicals in your body and help strengthen your immune system. They're especially important after a workout, when free radical levels in our muscles are elevated. These vitamins help to break these free radicals apart.
Think of multivitamins as an "insurance plan" for your body. Taking a multivitamin will help to prevent any nutritional deficiencies as well.