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Muscle Recovery: Essential to Your Next Workout

Recovery is a very important topic. So today I thought I would post a guest post about recovery. This article has been originally published on HVMN by Nate Martins. This article will focus on the importance of recovery. Because this is an important topic for all exercisers part 2 will be published later and its focus is on techniques and exercises for recovery.
Muscle recovery should be part of every training plan
(specifically post-workout). But there are multiple strategies
athletes can employ that lead to muscle health–even
things like diet can impact how your muscles recover.
Knowing what to do, and when to do it,
can help avoid the injuries that’ll set you back weeks.

Why is Recovery Important?

An important goal of every training session is to break down muscle. Without recovery, a significant portion of that work might be a waste of time. So, what exactly happens
during recovery? That’ll depend on the person and activity, but generally, four different things are happening while you’re resting.



Synthesis of protein: This is what leads to muscle growth. During recovery is when most muscle is built, because muscle protein synthesis increases by 50% four hours after a workout (like resistance training).1


Rebuilding of muscle fibers: Microtears in muscle fibers are a normal part of exercise,
happening when we put strain on our muscles. Recovery allows
these fibers to heal and become
stronger during that process.


Fluid restoration: We sweat (and lose a lot of fluid through exhaled air).2
Hydrating before, during and after a workout is important, because these fluids help deliver
nutrients to organs and muscle through the bloodstream.


Removal of metabolic waste products: Acids (via that pesky little proton associated
with lactate) accumulate during a workout, and recovery gives the body time to
restore intramuscular pH
and reestablish intramuscular blood flow for oxygen delivery (among other things).
While you’re resting, your muscles kick into overdrive.

Recovery can be attacked several ways–some may be surprising, because they
don’t directly target
the muscles themselves. By approaching recovery through a few different avenues,
it can be optimized.

It may not seem obvious, but a combination of hydration, diet, and supplements
can do wonders for the muscles.

Hydration: During and After Exercise

Drinking fluids is a mantra repeated by coaches everywhere for good reason: muscles are 75% water.


Before and during exercise, hydration is key to maintaining fluid balance and can even improve endurance (it’s equally important to not over-consume water as well).3,4 But post-workout, consuming enough water is vital to helping digest essential nutrients and repairing damaged muscle.


The sought after protein resynthesis requires muscles be well-hydrated.
And coupled with post-workout eating, saliva–which is comprised mostly of water–is necessary to help break down food, digest, and absorb all the nutrients you’re hoping to receive.
In one study, adequate hydration after
a 90-minute run on a treadmill showed significantly faster heart rate recovery;5 this illustrates that hydrated bodies recover from exercise-induced stress faster.
Nailing the right nutrition strategy post-workout
can encourage quicker recovery,
reduce soreness,build muscle, improve immunity
and replenish glycogen.

Your next workout starts within the hour your last workout ended.

Since exercise triggers the breakdown of muscle protein,7 it’s beneficial to consume an adequate amount of protein after a workout. Protein provides the body with necessary amino acids needed to repair and rebuild, while also promoting the development of new muscle tissue.8


Good sources of protein include: whey protein,
whole eggs, cheese and smoked salmon.


Carbohydrates have a similarly important effect–they replenish glycogen stores. The type of
exercise will depend on how much carbohydrate is needed.
Consuming about 0.5 - 0.7 grams
of carbohydrate per pound of bodyweight within 30 minutes of training can result
in adequate glycogen resynthesis.7 Insulin secretion promotes glycogen synthesis,
and is more stimulated when carbs and protein are consumed simultaneously.9



Carb sources are everywhere; but look to slow-release sources such as sweet potatoes,
fruit, pasta and rice.
Fat shouldn’t be the main focus of an after workout meal, but should be part of it.
Good fat sources include avocados and nuts. Milk is also a popular choice;
one study found whole milk was
more effective at promoting muscle growth than skim milk.10


Resting Your Way to Recovery

Rest should be accounted for in any training program.
Sleep: A Necessary Reset
On its face, sleep should be the easiest way to recover. One study found that lack of sleep can lead to muscle degradation.23 But many find it difficult to get the ideal seven-to-nine hours per night.


Sleep improves other facets of health that tangentially affect
muscle recovery; the central nervous system (CNS) also recuperates during
sleep, which is important for muscles, because the CNS
triggers muscle contractions and reaction time. Hormones like cortisol and
testosterone, which produce protein synthesis, are also working while we sleep.

To help optimize sleep, it’s important to set a routine.

Our screens can negatively impact sleep,24 so 60 - 90 minutes of screenless time before bed can do wonders. The blue light emitted from our devices tricks the brain into thinking it’s daytime and we need to be awake, decreasing our natural melatonin.
It’s also important to create an optimal environment for sleep.
Things like blackout curtains, a cooler temperature setting in the
bedroom, or a quality mattress can all encourage better,
more restful sleep.

Rest Days: Muscles Don't Take Breaks, But You Should

On a much smaller scale, what’s happening during sleep is also happening on rest days. Work rest days into your training program because they give the body time to repair tissues that have been broken down.25


Depleted muscle energy stores, micro-tears, fluid loss–all the things that happen during a
workout need time to recuperate and grow stronger.


Recovery time depends on your specific routine. Runners can have an especially
difficult time doing this. For highly active runners who log miles six days per week,
they should also incorporate recovery runs. About half of these runs should be at
recovery pace, a slower less-strenuous pace
that allows the body to recycle lactate as it's produced. By increasing blood flow,
recovery runs may actually accelerate the recovery process.

Also try to avoid intense workouts or hard runs on back-to-back days.
Complete rest days vary by person, but a good goal is one or two rest
days every week or ten days.
Injury-prone athletes
may increase the number of complete rest days during this period.

Hope you liked this,

Jennikatja

Read more on recovery:

💗My Experience with Over-Training

Sources used in this post: 
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