Wolverine has always been my favorite Marvel superhero. There’s something about his bad ass attitude, indestructibility, and coolness factor that captured my attention as a young kid. But later on, when I started getting into weight lifting during my teenage years, I was more intrigued by Wolverines amazing ability to heal and recover fast.
I use to think “how cool would it be to be able to recover within minutes of a gym workout?” Even though I realized, I would probably have to be born a mutant to expect a lightening quick workout recovery and have adamantium bonded to my bones, I never stopped searching for ways us mere mortals could recover fast from a gym workout.
The following is a list of 15 tips revealing the most potent methods to recover after weight training. Although, I can’t promise you a quick recovery like Wolverine, these tips may just be the next best thing…
Tip One – Get Knocked Out.
Sleep is the most important method to recovery. Hopefully, you know by now that muscle is not built while you are in the gym. It’s built when you are in the deepest level of sleep called Delta. This is when the magical hormone called “growth hormone” is released.
If you fail to get enough sleep, you will ultimately fail to reach your full muscle building potential. So make sure you get adequate shut eye consistently each night. This is different for everybody but 7 – 9 hours is the sweet spot for most people.
Tip Two – Adjust The Contrast.
Contrast showers are a simple but effective method to recover after a workout. They are done by alternating the water between hot and cold, usually for 1 – 2 minutes each. This is then repeated for 5 – 10 cycles of hot/cold blasts.
Contrast showers help to improve circulation and flush out lactic acid build up. The end result is you’ll be seeing the gym a lot quicker than you would without using this simple recovery method.
Tip Three – Schedule For War And Then Rest.
Muscle tissue is under attack during a workout session and it can be comparable to them being in an all out war. After your training session, you are weak, your muscles are shot, and your central nervous system (CNS) is weary. If you lead a busy and active life it may not be in your best interests to workout first thing in the morning.
Ideally, you should schedule your workout sessions so that you blitz your muscles but then relax afterward. Keep activity to a minimum. This will help your body rest, recovery and bounce back for your next workout session.
Tip Four – Ban Yourself From The Gym.
Every 8 – 12 weeks ban yourself from going anywhere near the gym to workout. This may sound counter-intuitive but it’s not. If you workout non-stop for many months at a time, your body can and often will break down.
First you will notice yourself getting sick all the time, then you will notice your body getting weaker instead of stronger, next you may find yourself becoming more susceptible to injury, and then if you are smart you will realize that you have been over-training and place a ban on the gym.
Put a ban on the gym before injury forces you to take a time out. So every 8 – 12 weeks stay as far away from the gym as possible. After a weeks break, you will find you have a new enthusiasm to begin working out again. And you may be surprised to see yourself build strength during this time as you body becomes fully restored again.
Tip Five – Think Before You Drink.
If you are serious about packing on muscle, alcohol will only get in your way. Now, one or two alcoholic beverages every once in a while isn’t going to cause any damage. But regular binge drinking will.
Alcohol can be completely detrimental to your training. Not only will it play havoc with your ability to recover, it will also reduce sleep quality, and even mess with your central nervous system for up to a week. Not cool!
So think before you drink…
Tip Six – Find Your Zen.
We live in a highly stressful world. There is not doubt about it. We race, we pace, we constantly look at our watch, time is never on our side. Trying to recover from a gym workout is tough when additional stress is placed on your already burden shoulders. So what to do?
At least once a day, you should make it a habit of going inside and finding your zen. This is done with an easy 10 – 20 minute meditation session. All you need to do is close your eyes and focus on your breath going in and out. That’s it!
Meditation has a remarkable ability to help you beat stress, increase energy, eliminate central nervous system fatigue and get you back in the gym faster.
Find time to find your zen!
Tip Seven – Know Thy Body.
Your body cannot talk but it communicates with you every day. The only problem is nobody cares to listen! Pay attention to your body throughout the day, tune it to it, listen to the messages that are coming through. Then continue this listening practice when you are in the gym lifting weights.
This may be difficult at first because we are not used to doing this but it’s vitally important. So what are you listening for exactly? When you start to become aware of your body on a deep level, you will know exactly how often you should (or can) train, when to take a rest, when to increase weight, when to change workouts, how much sleep you need, and countless other things.
Anybody can give you advice, hey I’ve been giving you some tips in this article, but the most powerful advice will be from your the subtle signals your body tells you when you tune in to the “right” station. Listen to the wisdom of your body and you will know exactly what to do to build muscle and recover fast.
This can become tricky because your body does not actually want you to build muscle but in time you will “know” what to listen to.
Tip Eight – Don’t Let The Window Shut.
Some experts talk about a one hour window of opportunity, where you must get specific nutrients at the optimal levels to help you recovery from a workout. Whether this window exists or not isn’t the issue.
But what’s clear is if you let the window of opportunity shut within the first hour after working out, you can cause muscle protein catabolism, increase fatigue, and effect your future performances.
So to stop all this post workout madness from happening, you should do two things. First, you need to get both protein and carbohydrates into your body as quickly as possible. A shake with whey protein isolate, and dextrose is best. Additionally, use water instead of milk for faster absorption and chug this down as soon as you finish your workout.
The second thing you should do is wait 30 – 40 minutes for this liquid nutrition to be absorbed and then follow up with a meal including protein, carbs, and healthy fats (Omega fatty acids).
Post meal nutrition is very important, so never let the window shut during the first hour. Keep it open and get the nutrition you need to recover.
Tip Nine – Become A Quitter.
If you play squash on Monday, Wednesday you do 30 laps of the pool, Friday you play doubles on the tennis court and Saturday you play pick up basketball. How do you figure you will have enough energy for you gym workouts during the week?
There needs to be a fine line between cardio and weight training. If you are playing a few team sports each week, you should be fine but if you overdo it, you will pay a price when you are at the gym. Not to mention your place a greater stress on the recovery abilities of your body.
If you are going nuts on the treadmill and cycling up a storm 4 + times per week, unless you have some serious weight to lose, you are really overdoing it.
If you just want to pack on muscle, then learn to become a quitter and start quitting your cardio sessions until you do no more than 2 – 3 sessions of 20 – 30 minutes at a time.
This will give you more energy and help boost your recovery.
Tip Ten – Don’t Forget Your Health.
Too many bodybuilders forget about their health as they journey down the path to building muscle. Just because you exercise and you have a physique that make most men look like the equivalent of the wimp who gets sand kicked in his face by the muscle bound bully from the old Charles Atlas ads. This doesn’t mean you are healthy on the inside!
Many bodybuilders are a toxic wasteland, they suffer from flatulence, indigestion, liver problems, headaches and all types of ailments. When you realize how much artificial crap is put in most bodybuilding supplements, you will realize whey toxicity levels are sky high.
Never sacrifice your health for muscle, especially when you can actually have both, instead of just one or the other. Some quick fixes to help boost your health and your mass simultaneously.
- Choose supplements that don’t have a ton of ingredients that you have trouble saying. Go with brands that have less chemicals and don’t try to pack everything into one capsule or scoop of powder.
- Eat whole foods instead of highly processed ones. Eat as close to natural as possible.
- Take a “green drink” that includes wheatgrass and chlorella. This is available in powder form that you can mix into water and drink it 2 – 3 times per day. Green drinks are nutrient rich and contain many vitamins and minerals.
The bottom line is, the healthier your body is, the quicker it will be able to recover.
Tip Eleven – Get Some ZZZZZ’s After A Workout.
Central nervous system fatigue can be dramatically reduced if you have a nap after you workout. But the timing of this is essential. Too late in the day and a nap will mess up your sleep at night. So nap no later than 4 – 5 pm.
I like to workout, then take a post workout nutrition drink of protein and carbs. Then I will take a nap for 30 minutes. As soon as I wake up I am in the kitchen with my chef’s hat on, cooking up a post workout meal. All this is done within an hour after working out.
Something worth pointing out is the fact that during a nap you will not reach the deep level of sleep where your body starts to repair the tissue you blitzed in your gym session. But as I already noted, naps work a treat when it comes to reducing central nervous system fatigue. So this is the purpose behind getting some ZZZZZ’s after you workout.
Tip Twelve – Don’t Be Stupid.
If you have fallen ill or are sick, don’t be a hero and try to fight through it by continuing to workout. You are only causing yourself more harm than good. It’s hard enough for you body to recover after a solid workout session let alone add in trying to recover from a cold or infection.
Don’t be stupid, take some time off and recover fully before hitting the gym again. I know this may be hard and temptation will be whispering in your ear to “power through” but trust me on this! I have heard cases where guys have been training with a cold that has lasted up to two months.
Don’t let this happen to you.
Tip Thirteen – Be Cool.
When you finish your gym session do you shoot off as soon as your last set is done? If you do, you are missing the opportunity to cool down and help aid the recovery process.
All you need is an extra 10 minutes to do some stretching and some light exercise on an exercise bike or treadmill. This will help kick-start the repair process by removing waste products that have built up in the muscles during the workout and reduce muscle soreness. So don’t rush off after you finish your workout…be cool!
Tip Fourteen – Got Glutamine?
I don’t usually recommend Glutamine unless you are in a heavy lifting cycle or are constantly plagued by illness. Why? Basically it comes down to cost. Glutamine is damn expensive, so often I will use it at strategic times and cycle it in and out.
The jury is still out if Glutamine can help build mass or not. But research shows that it definitely can help boost the immune system and reduce fatigue. And we both know that a healthy immune system and a body that’s energized will recover quickly. So you may want to give Glutamine a try if it’s appropriate for you.
Tip Fifteen – Cook Yourself.
If your gym has a sauna, spending 15 minutes “cooking” yourself after you workout can help aid recovery. Saunas help to eliminate toxins via perspiration, increase blood flow, and help the muscles to relax.
I actually haven’t tried using the sauna after a gym session but I know others who swear by this gym recovery technique to help eliminate muscle soreness the following day.
Let me know your gym recovery tips, methods and strategies below in the comment section.
Thanks for reading,