If you’ve been on your health and fitness journey for a while now, you would know that taking a rest day is just as important as regular exercise. But how can you speed up the muscle recovery process and get the results you are training for?
At the moment we are staying safe and staying home and lots of us have taken on a home workout regime to stay strong and fit. I'm so grateful to all of you who are training at home with our LiveWithLesley Classes and the LWL App. I have received so many positive and truly uplifting messages from people who are really enjoying working out at home and are feeling nice and sore the next day from their workouts!
If you’ve ever experienced delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) — that muscle ache that can occur a day or 2 after a tough workout — then these tips are for you!
10 Muscle Recovery Tips
One of the most important Tips that I can offer you before you go through the list below is to keep moving even If you are feeling stiff and sore after your workout from the previous day, Try a gentle stretch out or even workout if you can but at a more gentle pace.
Drinking water is essential for post-workout recovery, but if you’ve been pushing extra-hard, you also need to consider your electrolytes.
Electrolytes include minerals like magnesium, potassium, calcium and sodium, and are found in most foods. These minerals are important for your nervous system, and they also get used up during muscle contraction.
By implementing healthy eating habits and including plenty of fruit and vegetables in your diet, you can get enough electrolytes for your muscle recovery.
Having a fruit or green smoothie after your workout can help replace electrolytes in your blood and aid recovery. Lemon water in the morning is also excellent to set your system up for the day.
2. Grab a post-workout snack
When your goal is to increase lean muscle mass, replenishing your protein and carbohydrate stores soon after a workout can help.
If you follow a plant-based diet, eating almonds, tofu, chickpeas and other high-protein foods can give your muscles the nutrients they need to repair.
A high-protein snack in the evening can also aid muscle repair overnight. However in most instances just making sure we include protein in all our meals and snacks will benefit our recovery and help our lean muscle mass.
3. Warmup and cool down
An effective warmup can help to minimise delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and decrease any risk of injury. By activating your muscles during the warmup, you gently lengthen them in preparation for exercise, which can prevent over-stretching of the tissue during the workout.
A proper warmup is especially important before exercises like deadlifts, pull-ups or single-arm rows. These exercises involve slow eccentric movements, where the muscle lengthens but contracts simultaneously. Warming the muscles before beginning the exercise will help to prevent strain or injury.
I recommend you use dynamic stretching, where the target area is continually moving, for your warm up and for your cool down.
Static stretching can help to improve your range of motion — I wait until i have completed my Dynamic cool down before beginning static stretches.
4. Foam Roll and Stretch
Foam rolling before a workout can help to increase performance. You should use dynamic stretches as part of your warmup to prepare the muscles you are going to use in your workout.
5. Elevate Your Legs
We spend most of our time with our legs down, whether it’s sitting, standing, walking or running.Elevating your legs up a wall for 5-10 minutes can help to reduce swelling in the muscles.
With any training program, you should aim to have one full day of rest each week to allow your body to recover and adapt to the work done on the previous training days.
7. Keep Moving
Light movement on your rest days can help to keep the blood circulating throughout your body, bringing nutrients to repair the muscles and flush out any metabolic waste products.
When you work out, you cause micro tears in the muscle which need time to repair — that’s what rest days are for! Keeping the blood flowing will help to speed up muscle recovery.
You don’t have to go too crazy — take the stairs rather than the elevator or make time for 10 minutes of walking during the day.
8. Reduce Stress
It probably won’t surprise you to learn that your emotional and mental well-being can affect your muscle recovery.
When you are under stress, the body is focused on the stress response and doesn’t have the capacity to prioritise muscle recovery.
Stress can also affect your sleep, eating patterns and general self-care. All of these things can impact your immune response, which is essential for muscle recovery.
9. Follow the Principle of Progressive Overload
Your training program shouldn’t leave you feeling sore for days on end each time you do a new workout. Ideally, any resistance training program will gradually increase the intensity of each workout within your limits.
By applying this principle, you will continually challenge your body without pushing it beyond its current threshold. An important part of progressive overload is selecting the right weights and number of reps for each exercise.
10. Listen to Your Body
Sometimes after a workout one side of your body might feel tighter than the other. These imbalances can occur as a result of our lifestyle and habits.
For example, if you are right or left-handed, one side will usually be stronger than the other. The weaker side may get tighter when you work out.
Take a moment after your workout to breathe and focus on how your body feels — then you can tailor your cool down to what your body needs that day.
You might spend a little extra time stretching one area that’s tight and pay some attention to how it feels during your next workout.