How to Speed Up Muscle Recovery – 6 Techniques

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Recovery is defined as “a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.” This is the goal of REGEN in EXOS, the training philosophy I am educated in.

Essentially, the goal is to train with the MED (Minimum Effective Dose) to elicit the greatest possible result. You want to get the athlete back on to the field or training program as quickly as possible at 100%.

Related: 10 Ways to Recover From a Brutal Training Session

Some people are in a perpetual state of recovery. The social media scene is littered with buzzwords and hashtages like “overtraining” and “#teamnodaysoff.” I actually love this, and promote sporadic overtraining to not only challenge the body, but to challenge the mind to go beyond the threshold of pain to surpass previous barriers.

But recovery is not sexy. Recovery is boring.

And the Instagram famous girls posing butt-first pictures are unable to make a fake-inspirational (fakespirational?) post about how recovery is “goals.” That’s where I step in. The same man who educated men on how to last longer in bed is the same man who will make recovery not only sexy, but something you will want to do.

These are not your ordinary recovery techniques. You might have heard of some of these, but you might not have tried them because they didn’t make any sense.

Incorporating one or all of these will make you a better athlete and a healthier person. Let’s get our recovery on!

Treadmill Cardio

How to Speed Up Muscle Recovery

#1 – Hot/Cold Therapy

This is a remarkable technique. So remarkable that at all EXOS facilities they have two jacuzzis. One is COLD AS F*CK. The other is a hot tub.

The technique is very effective.

From EXOS:

“The best way to utilize the hot and cold water is to contrast between the two and build up to longer durations under the cold. Finish in the cold if you’ll be participating in more activity that day or still have a long day at work. This will help stimulate your nervous system, which will help with focus and energy.”

The data isn’t 100% conclusive, but from what I have found a 3:1 hot/cold ratio is the best. Some recommend three minutes hot to one minute cold. This is a LONG time since we will want to repeat this 3-4 times.

Thus, based on TIME and the fact that if in California you might get arrested for wasting water (kidding), I recommend the following! [1][2]

Post-workout shower. Make the cold ALL THE WAY COLD and the hot as warm as you can stand and DO NOT BURN YOURSELF!

  • Start with a minute warm
  • 30 seconds COLD
  • 90 seconds warm
  • 30 seconds COLD
  • 90 seconds warm
  • 30 seconds COLD
  • 90 seconds warm
  • 30 seconds COLD

ALWAYS END ON COLD. You may soap off and shampoo etc. during this therapy. Multitasking at its finest. And if you’re a male, do not let anyone see you naked after the shower. That cold water will make your manparts look like a scared turtle!

Contrast Shower to Speed Muscle Recovery

#2 – Deep Tissue Massage

I recommend all athletes get a deep tissue massage as often as possible. But once a month is the minimum.

Fascia is extremely malleable. By working out your “kinks,” this can get your fascia where it needs to be. Also, some other benefits:

  • Blood flow: Like with contrast showers, increasing blood flow to the body and the areas that need work, it will facilitate nutrient delivery and ultimately, recovery.
  • Breaks up scar tissue: Scar tissue build up can hinder range of motion and recovery.
  • Relaxation: This alone can lead to much better recovery. Stress can hinder a lot of things and can also increase our chances of getting sick among other ailments.

I recommend you get a deep tissue massage 1-4 times a month.

#3 – Post Workout Nutrition

I will assume that we all have diets high in micronutrients and adequate protein. Delaying carb intake by just two hours has been shown to reduce glycogen replenishment by 50%. It is important to replenish glycogen because glucose is needed to produce ATP (adenosine triphosphate).

ATP, the biological currency of energy, is responsible for many actions in the body including muscular contractions. The faster you can get this replenished, the faster you can start the recovery process.

This is my recommendation for you:

Overtraining Solution

Click here to order Ambrosia’s Overtraining Solution.

Larger Bodypart Day (Legs, Back)

Smaller Bodypart Day (Shoulders, Arms)

  • 1 scoop Carb 10
  • 1 scoop MTS Whey
  • 2 scoops Overtaining Solution

#4 – Low Intensity Cardio

This facilitates blood flow and nutrient delivery. DO NOT GO TOO HARD. Just barely break a sweat. Any time will do, but I like to see a good 20 minutes.

My favorite is the bike due to lack of pressure on the joints but any cardio equipment will work. This goes hand in hand with foam rolling and pillar prep, but instead of rehashing this, see my previous article here.

Do THIS on off days from the gym:

  • Regen Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7E6OdsyXIs
  • Pillar Prep: 20-30 minutes (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCl0Yzibap4&t=96s). Foam roll and pin roll to work out stressed fascia and promote recovery.
  • Low Intensity Cardio: 20 minutes
  • Promote Blood Flow. I LOVE outdoor activity like a walk or casual bike ride, but use indoor equipment if needed.

OPTIONAL: Deep tissue massage.

#5 – Infrared Saunas

For about $1,500 you can own one of these bad boys. I do not have one, but Ben Pakulski has an infrared sauna in his MI40 Gym in Tampa, FL. Also, my brother swears by his.

These differ from “regular saunas” because the infrared lights directly penetrate your skin. The air around you does not get unbearably hot and wet. Despite the lack of environmental temperature change, the temperature in your body goes up quickly.

This device can improve heart function, lower chronic pain and arthritis pain, and lower effects of diabetes. [3][4][5]

I recommend using this daily if possible, or as often as possible, if you have one.

#6 – Sleep

Think of sleep like a fuel tank. Once you are half full, you need to OVER-compensate to get back to full… Yet you CAN’T top off.

The goal is to keep your “sleep tank” as close to full as possible at all times. Thus, when possible and if deficient, sleep in or take naps.

At night, get your room as dark as possible. DO NOT WATCH TV IN BED! The bedroom is for two things, sleeping and sex.

While my nickname is “The Machine,” sooner or later being a human catches up. Not sleeping enough, while a necessity for some, is not a good thing.

The Take-Home

There are other recovery techniques, but these are some you can certainly add into your regiment. Other than the sauna, these won’t cost you anything other than time and a minimal supplement investment.

BUT the results you will obtain when your recovering faster will not only make you perform better in the gym, but in life as well.

References

1) Bieuzen, Bleakley & Costello. Contrast Water Therapy and Exercise Induced Muscle Damage: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis PLoS ONE 2013, 8: e62356.
2) Morton. Contrast water immersion hastens plasma lactate decrease after intense anaerobic exercise. J Sci Med Sport 2007, 6: 467-470.
3) “Far-infrared Saunas for Treatment of Cardiovascular Risk Factors.” PubMed Central (PMC), www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2718593/.
4) “Infrared Sauna in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Ankylosing Spondylitis. A Pilot Study Showing Good Tolerance, Short-term Improvement of Pa… – PubMed – NCBI.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18685882.
5) “The Effects of Repeated Thermal Therapy on Quality of Life in Patients with Type II Diabetes Mellitus. – PubMed – NCBI.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20569036.

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Name: Marc Lobliner

Bio: Marc is currently Chief Marketing Officer of TigerFitness.com, a 2012/2013/2014 INC. 500/5000 company as well as Owner/CEO of two of the fastest growing supplement companies, EthiTech Nutrition and MTS Nutrition.