After your workout you might be feeling some soreness in the muscles that you worked (and maybe even some that you didn’t work directly!) the previous day. This is believed to be caused by micro tears in the connective tissue on the eccentric (negative) portion of a lift (Ex lowering of dumbbell to your chest in a dumbbell chest press). And if you follow my training techniques, you know that I’m big on controlling the eccentric or negative portion of a movement to aid in maximizing hypertrophy or muscle growth.
The question is though, what can you do to help reduce muscle soreness?
There are actually 5 things that I recommend to aid in your recovery, the greater your recovery, the less muscle soreness. However, before I get into my recommendations for reducing muscle soreness I want to preface these by saying if you are a beginner just starting out, you’re first few workouts will have you more sore than after you’ve been at it a couple months and your body has begun to adapt to the stress of weight training and become more efficient at recovery.
Nutrition – Proper nutrition is going to be one of the core components to your recovery. When you exercise and create those micro-tears in your muscles, your body needs to repair them so you want to make sure you have a balanced nutritional plan with enough protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats.
Moreover, if you can supply your body with the nutrients that it needs to replenish glycogen stores and begin recovery close to your workout window this will go along way in speeding up your recovery and reducing muscle soreness.
My recommendation would be:
30-45 minutes Pre-Workout:
30-50g carbohydrates with a Whey Isolate or EAAS
25-50g carbohydrates (branched cyclic dextrin) and BCAAS or EAAS that you can sip on throughout your workout.
1-Hour Post Workout:
A complete meal with protein and carbohydrates
Sleep – Getting enough sleep is essential to our recovery as well. Our largest natural pulses of human growth hormone happen in our sleep. Additionally, it is hypothesized that “sleep debt decreases the pathways of protein synthesis and increases the activity of degradation pathways, favoring the loss of muscle mass and thus hindering muscle recovery after damage induced by exercise.”1 This is exactly what we don’t want! We want increased protein synthesis and to take advantage of sleep’s role in recovery. So Shoot for 7-9 hours of sleep and maximize your recovery!
Hydration – We’re big on the basics here at The Fitness Rebellion and staying properly hydrated throughout the day will aid in optimal mineral and nutrient delivery. The better that we can deliver the nutrients that our body needs to repair itself on the cellular level, the better our recovery. Aim for a 1-1 water loss to replacement ratio around the exercise window. Utilizing intra-workout carbohydrates and EAAS in water will help with not only the hydration, but providing the actually nutrients needed for recovery.
Foam Roll – Never underestimate the power of the foam roller! The process of foam rolling is called self-myofascial release and helps to break up muscle tightness, adhesion, and scar tissue in the myofascial connective tissue. It is similar in theory to a massage, but what it also does is increase blood flow2. Increased blood flow to an area helps with nutrient delivery of glucose, amino acids, fatty acids and more. So break out the foam roller and get to it!
Rest Days – Give your body some extra time to recover by scheduling a rest day after a hard workout. You can still do some foam rolling and some light cardio to increase blood flow, but you don’t have to go right back into another heavy and hard workout.
My recommendation for rest days on a 3 and 4 day split are below:
Day 1 -Train
Day 2 -Off
Day 3 -Train
Day 4 -Off
Day 5 -Train
Day 1 -Train
Day 2 -Train
Day 3 -Off
Day 4 -Train
Day 5 -Train
- Sleep and muscle recovery: Endocrinological and molecular basis for a new and promising hypothesisDattilo M., Antunes H.K.M., Medeiros A., Monico Neto M., Souza H.S., Tufik S., De Mello M.T.(2011) Medical Hypotheses, 77 (2) , pp. 220-222.
- The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research (2017; 31 , 893–900)
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