Muscle recovery - The secrets to speed it up
What is muscle recovery?
It might not be so obvious, but behind a great athlete there is always proper muscle recovery, but what is it exactly and how does it affect our body?
Without using complicated terms, we can say that muscle recovery is that process that restores the normal status and function of the muscles after the damage that we created while training.
This process it’s divided in 2 different phases, let’s analyze them in a simplified way:
1st Phase - Repairing the damaged muscle fibers
In this first phase our body starts the process of protein synthesis.
In order to do this, the body increases the release of prostaglandins and hormones that are necessary to repair the muscle tissues; hormones like GH (growth hormone) and IGF-1 have a key role in our body-recovery process.
So, in this phase the muscle fibers are getting repaired, and this is also one of the easies phase to recognize because it’s characterized by:
- Reduced joint mobility
- DOMS in the trained muscles (Delayed-onset muscle soreness)
- Less propensity to train
The process of repairing the muscles has priority over the process of generating muscle mass; remember that our body is programmed to survive, not to become a bodybuilder, so you have to respect its time and process order.
2nd Phase - Supercompensation
In this phase we can finally feel the positive consequences of our training; the generation of muscle mass. In this way during our next workout the muscle won’t be “unprepared” and it can face the same load and maybe also a bigger one.
Unlike the previous phase, this one is not so easy to recognize so it can happen that after 4-5 days the DOMS disappear but the muscles are not completely recovered.
The importance of muscle recovery for training and bodybuilding
Maybe you’ve heard already something like
“It’s during recovery that the muscles are growing.”
“You have to destroy in order to build more than before.”
And it’s exactly like that. If you don’t get enough rest your muscles won’t grow (or they will grow below their potential)
And if you keep training without proper recovery and rest this can lead to a condition called overtraining, characterized by:
- Drop of testosterone level
- Increase of cortisol level
- Being much more vulnerable to injury
- Worsening of workout performance
- Low mood
All these side effects are connected to each other and once one starts it can amplify the intensity of the others creating a vicious circle very harmful for your body.
For example, if you cannot sleep properly and you’re having bad nights over and over your level of stress will increase and so your cortisol levels, and your muscle growth will be much slower.
Once we understood the importance of proper recovery we have now to take action, in this way we can increase our performance and our overall muscle health.
Stretching is essential for your muscles, it helps you remove and cure muscle contractures and it lowers your risks of injury.
Normal stretching on the floor, along with foam rollers and massage guns are perfect to take care of all your muscles.
Nutrition has a key role for your muscle health and of course food is always the best choice; investing in a proper nutrition is much more healthy than relying on supplements. Make sure that your diet includes:
- Omega 3, that is helping your body to repair the muscles.
- Enough Proteins, a high-protein diet speeds up recovery and protein is the main element responsible for your muscle support and growth.
- Vitamins and minerals, if your diet lacks vitamins your muscle recovery will be slower. Zinc and magnesium are fundamental nutrients for testosterone production, so their deficiency has a direct impact on your performance.
Sleeping restores your energies and it’s when you’re asleep that your body is recovering the most, healing your muscles and making them stronger. For this is vital to have a good and healthy sleep routine and of course to sleep enough.
Using your time to do stretching and sleeping may not be the most enjoyable activity in your training program, but it can be the most important. Without a proper recovery you may not be able to keep the same rhythm with your workouts, decreasing your average performance.