Did you know that proper recovery is as important as exercise when it comes to getting stronger, faster and fitter?
It's true. While there's no doubt you need to push your limits in the gym in order to keep making progress, rest and recovery is when your body actually repairs itself from your workouts, allowing your muscles to heal and grow back bigger and stronger.
But while you need to make sure to take a rest day or two in order to give your body proper time to bounce back after a tough workout, there are several things you can do to make your recovery time faster so you can continue to toward your goals.
Here are six ways to recover faster after a workout:
1. Do yoga.
There's no doubt about it: yoga is one of the best things you can do to ensure your body recovers quickly from tough workouts. Practicing yoga regularly between workouts allows you the chance to focus on dynamic flexibility training, core stabilization and strengthening-balance work, all of which can help you recover faster after workouts and open up tight areas that may be hindering your performance.
As a bonus, yoga can help you develop mental focus and concentration, which can boost your workout performance as well.
2. Foam roll.
If your foam roller is sitting unused in the back of your closet, it's time to get it out, since foam rolling will speed up workout recovery like nothing else can. Not only will foam rolling help reduce soreness and tightness so that you feel ready to get back to working out harder sooner, rolling out the knots can also help prevent injuries and can make you more flexible, which will aid in better performance at the gym.
3. Drink green tea.
Green tea is packed with catechins, antioxidants that not only fight heart disease and cancer, but also help reduce muscle damage caused by exercise. Try drinking iced green tea for a refreshing pre-workout boost or even afterwards to help your body recover faster from workouts.
As a bonus, green tea can help speed up fat loss as well — just make sure you drink it unsweetened for maximum results!
4. Get cold.
Icing sore muscles, or even submerging yourself in an ice bath, after a workout can help reduce swelling and recovery time, ultimately helping you to feel less sore and ready to rock your workout the next day. But while some exercisers swear by ice baths, claiming it keeps them from being overly sore and gives them a competitive edge over other athletes, some recent studies on cold exposure after a workout show that ice baths might not actually do much to aid in recovery.
The bottom line? Learn to listen to your own body. If you feel that cold exposure helps you recover faster, by all means, keep doing it. If it feels like torture and also doesn't seem to help, move on to other methods of recovery.
5. Eat anti-inflammatory foods.
Working hard during a workout inevitably causes inflammation in your body, which can result in your feeling so sore you don't want to work out again for days afterwards. But including certain foods in your diet can reduce inflammation — helping you to feel less sore and speeding up recovery time. Specifically, foods high in vitamin A, vitamin C, and antioxidants can help reduce muscle soreness and help with recovery.
Here are some inflammation-reducing foods to include in your diet to help you recover faster:
- Cherries (preferably tart or montmorency cherries)
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Red pepper
So eat up — your muscles will thank you for it!
6. Get some sleep.
When you're active and work out hard, one of the most important — yet often most neglected — things you can do to help your body recover is to get plenty of sleep. Since sleep is when your body does its best muscle building and repairing, missing out on a good night's sleep will delay recovery.
So start making sleep a priority today, and watch as your workouts, energy levels, and recovery time improve before you know it!