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Workout Recovery Tricks
Workout recovery is VERY important. You can't just work the same muscles day after day, as that could lead to injuries and will slow down muscle growth. Recovery time allows your body to repair those muscles you've worked out, and thus leads to much better growth of muscle fiber--ergo overall muscle growth.
But do you know how to recover properly? Here are some tricks to help you:
Take Some Down Time
You shouldn't just work out every day of the week for a whole year. Not only do you need a "rest day" every week, but you also need a "rest week" every once in a while.
Your body breaks down when you exercise, and it takes time for it to be healed completely. This means that you need to give your body a break, and failing to do so leads to "overtraining". Overtraining can push your body too hard for too long, thereby leading to injuries, fatigue, and even muscle damage. Every month or so, take a week to do HALF the work you normally do and give your muscles a break.
Did you know that water is one of the MOST important parts of your workout recovery? A lack of water won't only reduce the performance of your muscles, but it can also slow down your rate of recovery?
Exercise flushed water from your body--both via sweat and urine--and it increases your body's demand for liquid and electrolytes. If you don't hydrate properly, you don't give your body the fluid it needs to replenish its depleted stores. You should drink AT LEAST a liter of water in the hour after exercise, and make sure to increase water intake throughout the day as well.
Rest Between Workouts
Are you working out your muscles EVERY day, every other day, or every three days? A 2-day Split (working out the muscle every other day) is ideal for those who are working in the 20 to 25 rep range, while a 3-Day Split (working out the muscle twice a week) is better for those working with heavier weights.
You need no less than 48 hours between weight training your muscles, and it's better to give your muscles 72 hours of rest if you really push them hard. That's the key to not only preventing DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), but also to reducing your risk of injuries.
Sleep It Off
You NEED sleep, not just to avoid being a cranky, tired, and hungry person, but also to build big muscles. A lack of sleep will have a negative effect on your body's ability to repair itself after the stresses of a workout.
Your body increases the production of anabolic (growth-inducing) hormones as you sleep, so that's when you make the most gains in muscle growth. If you don't get enough sleep at night, you decrease the production and effect of the anabolic hormones, leading to reduced muscle growth and repair. It's important that you get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night, and consider taking a power nap during the day AFTER you've done your workout.
Eating AFTER working out is the key to being healthy. You'll find that a good post-workout meal will keep your body working hard, and will give it the nutrients it needs to replenish everything it has sweat and burned out.
You need to eat anywhere between 30 and 60 minutes following your workout, and it's wise to make your post-workout meal the BIG meal of the day. This will not only speed up muscle repair, but it can help to speed up your metabolism as well.