18 Proven ways to speed up post-exercise muscle recovery

Exercise is a crucial component of a healthy lifestyle, contributing to improved physical fitness, mental well-being, and overall quality of life. However, an often-overlooked aspect of exercise is the importance of post-exercise muscle recovery.

After a strenuous workout, our muscles undergo microscopic damage and depletion of energy stores, leading to soreness and fatigue.

Rest and recovery are indispensable parts of any workout routine. Optimal recovery is essential not only for alleviating these symptoms but also for promoting muscle repair and growth.

Your post-training recuperation habits will significantly impact your fitness and sports performance and allow you to train much more effectively. The question is, how do you speed up muscle recovery after working out?

Where to begin?

It would help if you gave your muscles time to rest and not work out in the same groups two days in a row (for weight training practices, at least). Take note that multiple recovery methods also depend on the individual’s condition/s. 

Here are 18 ways to help you recuperate faster after working out

1. Get more sleep

Sleep allows your muscles to recover from exercise. Individuals who exercise intensely need even more rest than the average person [1]. Some professional athletes supposedly sleep 10 hours or more per night.

In addition, research reveals that lack of sleep may impair muscle recovery by affecting the body’s inflammation response and hormone production that administers muscle growth [2], [3].

2. Take a daytime nap

Taking a nap after training can assist in muscle recovery [4]. While sleeping, your pituitary gland releases a hormone that aids in building and repairing tissue. Not only is this paramount for muscle growth, but it can also help hasten recovery.

3. Listen to music

Music can be excellent for allowing us to power through a challenging workout or at least diverting us from painful muscle-burning sensations. There’s also a possibility that listening to relaxing tunes can aid in exercise recovery [5].

Slow-tempo music can help reduce heart rate faster and get your blood to lactate – the stuff that pushes the pain in the first place – back down to resting levels more quickly after working out [6].

4. Reduce your stress levels

When under stress, your body can’t prioritize muscle recovery. A study from 2014 found that periods of high pressure had slower recovery times [7]. Also, lower stress levels were linked with faster recovery times.

It may not consistently seem possible to decrease the amount of stress in your life. Still, many find mindfulness activities like meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises beneficial for managing stress, but that doesn’t mean that they’ll always work or that you must try them. You can opt for any activity that can help you relax.

5. Eat protein in the morning and before bed

After a demanding training session and a good night’s rest, your body can use additional nutrients to rejuvenate. Eating meals high in protein can keep the muscle rebuilding process in motion [8]. They might also lessen cravings later in the day and halt evening snacking.

Your body uses protein to fix the tiny tears in your muscles that emerge when you work out. Studies show these practices of protein intake can help you bounce back better after exercise [9].

One study had participants take 40 grams of casein protein 30 minutes before sleep after resistance training.

The research found that the protein increased amino acid levels and whole-body protein synthesis while enhancing protein balance. All these had a favorable impact on muscle recovery [10].

6. Consume a little protein before your workout

A study shows that consuming a little protein can speed up recovery [11]. The reason for this is that protein contains amino acids, also known as tissue’s building blocks. This helps repair the tears caused by working out.

Some foods that are excellent sources of amino acids are beans, beef, cottage cheese, dairy, eggs, fish, mushrooms, poultry, soy, and quinoa.

7. Eat something with protein post-workout

During exercise, the proteins that make up your muscle fibers are damaged [11]. Consuming protein after working out can help give your body the materials needed for muscle damage repair.

Research has found that 20 to 40 grams of protein, or around 0.4 to 0.5 g/kg (0.18 to 0.22g/lb), is enough to maximize muscle growth.

8. Drink chocolate milk

If you’re looking for a convenient and delicious after-workout snack on the go, try some chocolate milk. The protein in this drink will jumpstart said muscle recovery. In addition, studies found that those carbs can lessen the time the body needs to get ready for the next challenge it will face [12].

9. Skip alcohol

For those of us who enjoy a post-workout happy hour, you might want to be wary of getting too much booze. Per the National Strength and Conditioning Association, any drink with 4 percent or more alcohol can raise how much you urinate [13]. This can hinder rehydration after exercise, leading to cramping and delayed recovery.

10. Try tart cherry juice drink

If you’re feeling stiff from the past day’s workout, tart cherry juice or supplements might help ease the swelling that occurs when muscles are injured, letting your body recover faster and with less pain [14].

A research review that looked into the benefits of tart cherry supplements in athletes found that they lowered inflammation after exercise. Also, curcumin, an active turmeric compound, may offer similar anti-inflammatory benefits.

11. Drink plenty of water

Adequate recovery could be just a glass (or more) away. Water helps remove the metabolic waste a heavy workout produces, among its many other functions. Losing up to 4 liters or nearly 9 pounds of fluid per hour is likely in the heat.

The American Council on Exercise advised that you should consume 8 ounces of water 30 minutes after exercise and add 16 to 24 ounces for every pound of body weight lost while exercising [15].

12. Rest your muscles

Many suggest taking two days between workouts involving the same muscle group, but there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for recovery time [16].

Fitness level and age are vital in determining how much rest we need between weightlifting training. Try to set a few extra rest days if you notice that your performance is declining from workout to workout.

13. Take an anti-inflammatory medication

Anti-inflammatory medications have been found to speed up muscle recovery and reduce soreness (at least in the short term). They might not be adequate for your muscle growth over time.

A small 2018 study recommends that increased doses of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen and aspirin) may restrain exercise’s ability to boost muscle strength [17]. With this information, you might opt for natural anti-inflammatories (turmeric and willow bark) instead.

14. Try compression garments

For many athletes, it’s critical to quickly regain the energy (and willpower) to jump, throw or run. Research suggests that compression apparel can help diminish muscle recovery time, particularly strength recovery, between extreme episodes of exercise [18].

15. Use a foam roller

Considerably, the amount of soreness that goes along with training happens when muscles and fascia (the connective tissue that runs throughout your body) get ‘knots.’ Rolling out muscles with this instrument can help get rid of this knotting.

It may also prevent the formation of muscle imbalances. While foam rolling is not precisely designed for comfort, the benefits are worth it.

16. Take an ice bath

Many athletes swear by ice baths, ice massages, or alternating hot and cold showers (also known as contrast water therapy), which help them in recovering faster, reducing muscle soreness, and preventing injury.

The theory behind this method lies in the continuously dilating and constricting blood vessels that allow for the removal of waste products in the tissues.

17. Get a massage

Recovery back rubs are always good, right? As we needed randomized controlled studies to tell us, research suggests that massage helps reduce post-exercise muscle soreness [19].

18. Fuel yourself from within

David Bailey, PhD is a performance consultant in World Tour cycling who manages performance projects focused on athlete physical preparation, equipment development, sports nutrition, and related performance interventions that target success at the World Tour level.

He suggests that faster recovery can come from proper preparation and a recovery plan that nourishes your body from the inside and out.

Recover by starting from the inside

One of the essential processes in the human body is the conversion of glucose and oxygen into energy, known as respiration. The primary energy source comes from the mitochondria, microscopic organelles found in the cytoplasm of cells.

They are in charge of maintaining cell life and being the gatekeepers of cell death. Mitochondria have developed to manage various processes in the body: energy production, cellular growth, and apoptosis (scheduled cell death).

Incidentally, mitochondria have their own specialized set of DNA, called mDNA – which is believed to be from endosymbiosis between bacteria engulfed by a cell [20]. This made it viable a few years back for the first ‘three-parent’ babies to be delivered through mitochondrial transfer therapies designed to prevent the transmission of genetic disorders through mDNA [21].

90% of your cellular energy is produced by your mitochondria. Click here to learn how Mitopure can help boost your daily productivity.

What is mitochondrial or cellular energy?

While mitochondria are concerned with multiple cellular functions, their most important process is bioenergetics – producing energy using ATP. Mitochondria are so crucial to energy production – that the first demonstration of how ATP functioned back in 1997 earned the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Mitochondria oxidize fats, proteins, and sugars to build chemical energy stored in ATP. The consequent ATP is an energy-carrying molecule that hauls the chemical energy from the disintegration of food to fuel other cellular processes. It is regarded as the ‘energy currency of life.’

Cellular energy, healthspan and aging

Cellular energy, healthspan, and aging

Sadly, healthspan has not kept pace with lifespan – and most individuals go through a decline in health long before they even reach peak life expectancy. The longevity industry thus focuses on aging and diseases to improve healthspan and lifespan.

Mitochondrial dysfunction is pondered as an antagonistic aging hallmark that answers to the injury of aging. Truly, mitochondrial dysfunction is connected to age-related illness, neurodegeneration, and ischemic injuries.

A more familiar outcome of mitochondrial dysfunction is muscle strength loss, which a lot of people start to observe in their 40s because of age-related decline in mitochondrial function and cellular bioenergetics [22].

Despite being essential to cell functioning and energy production, the mitochondria’s part in aging and longevity is not fully comprehended. There are a few competing theories entangling mitochondria dysfunction with aging.

Urolithin A with Mitopure from Amazentis

With these issues, Swiss scientists at Amazentis took on this challenge. As with all things, mitochondria wear out. This descent in function is one of the attributes of aging and connects to other hallmarks of aging processes, together with genomic instability, telomere dysfunction, and cellular senescence.

Sensibly, our bodies partake in a continual upkeep programme called mitophagy – breaking down tired and sub-par mitochondria and reusing their molecules. As we grow older, our mitochondrial dysfunction increases, but the rate of mitophagy drops. 

Scientists have linked this decline in mitophagy to a loss of muscle function and other issues (cognitive decline and memory loss). Mitophagy also has a role in protecting against Parkinson’s disease and tumor suppression. It confirms how logical it is to increase its rate, and here’s where urolithin A enters the picture.

It’s not enough to consume sufficient urolithin A elements, as your body can transform those materials into the postbiotic. The answer to this relies on your gut microbiome, to be precise. Teeming with trillions of microorganisms, including fungi, viruses, and bacteria, our microbiome helps us regulate our immune system, digest food, and produce important diverse molecules such as vitamin K, thiamine, and riboflavin.

Research indicates that Urolithin A exposure to nematodes (roundworms) extends their lifespan and mitophagy [23]. Their subjects’ mobility improved with age and increased activity. Urolithin A also enhanced exercise capability in mice suffering age-related muscle decline.

Using urolithin A in human trials suggests that a precise dose is mandatory. Amazentis introduced Mitopure, a proprietary urolithin A supplement under the Timeline brand, which includes powder and soft-gel forms. 

Not just for athletes in competitive sports

What is mitochondrial or cellular energy?

Aside from being a supplement helping elite athletes, aging is also one factor that Mitopure is seen to address. As aging is linked to associated decline in mitochondrial function, Mitopure can have application across populations, significantly older or in a more diseased condition.

A further study in JAMA Network Open uncovered that the urolithin A supplement can aid with the improvement or prolonging of muscle activity in older people or those with conditions that make exercise difficult [24]. 

The trials thrived statistically, with two measures of improved muscle steadiness in the supplemented group, compared with a placebo group. Exercises involving the hand and leg estimated muscle endurance, with researchers calculating the gain in the number of muscle contractions until such period that fatigue settles in, between a baseline and the final test after four months.

Our recent interview with Performance Coach David Bailey explains how Urolithin A is helping Tour De France riders to keep their energy levels up. Click here to learn the science behind Mitopure and how it can help you!

A practical and effortless way to improve muscle recovery is accessible to everyone. A daily dose of Mitopure is equivalent to consuming six glasses of pomegranate juice – without getting worked up if you can convert it and even without the excess sugar.

Delivering the needed cellular boost

Much analysis into urolithin A has been performed on the general population, but recent studies, especially regarding aging, presented at a conference on sports medicine detailed nice improvements in muscle function and endurance – the first to exhibit beneficial effects in a healthy middle-aged population.

Along with exercise, supplements can be utilized to help energy production and mitochondrial health. Manufactured by gut bacteria, urolithin A is a dynamic postbiotic synthesized after eating certain foods high in polyphenols like berries, pomegranates, and nuts.

Postbiotics are health-promoting compounds produced as metabolic by-products by microorganisms living in the gut. Considering that our gut microbiome differs by factors like age, diet, and genetics; people produce urolithin A at different rates. Individuals with more bacteria from the Clostridiales and Ruminococcaceae families living in their gut can make urolithin A.

The ideal dosage for urolithin A

The Mitopure supplements carry 500mg of highly pure urolithin A, providing six times the amount of urolithin A available from diet alone [25]. While not planned to work independently without regular exercise or fruit intake, it’s safe to say that urolithin A supplements like Mitopure are a practical and accessible way to boost energy, mitochondrial health, and muscular strength in older people.

A muscle needs around 24 to 48 hours to rebuild and repair. Working it again too soon only leads to tissue breakdown instead of building. Make sure to include recovery in your priorities, and try the suggested tips for optimized results.

[1] https://www.healthline.com/health/muscle-recovery#lifestyle
[2] https://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Abstract/2020/02000/Effects_of_Sleep_Deprivation_on_Acute_Skeletal.28.aspx
[3] https://www.healthline.com/health/sleep-deprivation/sleep-deprivation-stages
[4] https://greatist.com/happiness/will-napping-affect-good-nights-sleep
[5] https://greatist.com/fitness/should-i-do-cooldown-after-cardio
[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27314136
[7] https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Fulltext/2014/07000/Chronic_Psychological_Stress_Impairs_Recovery_of.26.aspx
[8] https://greatist.com/eat/protein-pancake-recipes
[9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6415027/
[10] https://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Fulltext/2012/08000/Protein_Ingestion_before_Sleep_Improves.20.aspx
[11] https://www.healthline.com/health/muscle-fibers
[12] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29921963/
[13] https://www.nsca.com/education/articles/nsca-coach/the-effects-of-alcohol-on-athletic-performance2/
[14] https://greatist.com/health/drink-cherry-juice-sore-muscle-cure
[15] https://bit.ly/3zJMHMr
[16] https://greatist.com/fitness/do-my-muscles-need-two-days-recover
[17] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/apha.12948
[18] https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40279-017-0728-9
[19] https://jcdr.net/article_fulltext.asp?issn=0973-709x&year=2014&volume=8&issue=1&page=133&issn=0973-709x&id=3971
[20] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3513836/
[21] https://rb.gy/qgvglo
[22] https://rb.gy/8hiump
[23] https://www.nature.com/articles/nm.4132
[24] https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2788244
[25] http://pdf.amazentis.com/pdf/Amazentis_Timeline_Launch_PR_7.27.2020_v9_Final.pdf

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