It's time to make some progress on the bench press, read these five tips now...
When walking up the stairs feels like tackling Mount Everest, you know you went hard on leg day. Pushing ourselves to the point where the muscle begins to break down is how we increase muscle size and strength.
But, your muscles don't grow in the gym. Recovery is key to improving physical performance, aesthetics and injury prevention.
Here are six proven ways you can ensure you're doing your utmost to promote muscle recovery and keep progressing in the weights room, on the track or in the court.
1. Up your sleep game
During sleep, your brain releases chemicals to promote the recovery of your muscles; this is the single most crucial time for your muscles to repair and rebuild.
Sleep deprivation can have a considerable impact on your performance, leading to longer recovery times. Having a lack of sleep has also been linked to overeating and weight gain — three reasons you need to get your 7 - 9 hours of sleep each night.Read our 5 ways sleep can supercharge your workout article.
2. Hydrate yourself
If your body is dehydrated, it won't be working efficiently, and toxins created when exercising will hang around for longer, stunting muscle repair and slowing the transport of nutrients to your muscles.
It may sound simple, but drinking plenty of water throughout the day comes with a whole heap of benefits for your body!
3. Control exercise intensity
Some of us are, well, slightly obsessed with exercise... which is fantastic! But aiming for PB's every day will soon leave you deflated, sore and potentially injured. Monitor your training sessions and remember to tailor back the intensity to keep a balance of high-intensity and low-intensity exercise.
This way, you're always active (even if you've got DOMS), and your chance of injury is significantly reduced.
4. Work on your flexibility
The flexibility of our muscles plays a massive part in injury prevention. Yes, many of us lift weights to break down our muscle fibres, but we do not want strains or tears of the muscle groups that will prevent us from training. Increasing flexibility means exercises you can achieve a full ROM (range of motion) and reduced risk of serious injury.
Hold stretches for 30-40 seconds after training to retain and increase muscle flexibility.
5. Use a foam roller
Aka. self-myofascial release
Foam rolling on a regular basis has been shown to deliver enhanced recovery and muscle fibre quality: removing knots and tight areas in the muscles where muscle imbalances can occur.
It may be more effort than getting a sports massage, but it's much, much cheaper and 5 - 10 minutes a day can make a huge difference. Get a foam roller for your gym bag.
6. Have a regular protein intake
You may have thought protein shakes would be on the list, and yes, they're great for a quick digesting hit of protein if you feel your intake has been inadequate. However, try to eat protein at regular intervals ensuring there's a substantial amount in each meal during your day, including breakfast.
Protein is an essential macronutrient, crucial for ensuring our muscles repair and rebuilder stronger than before. Check out this protein bar recipe.
Got your own ways to help speed up recovery? Share them with us in the comments below.