“Muscles don’t grow in the gym.”
I’m sure you’ve heard that old bodybuilding adage before.
Well, there’s truth in it.
Weightlifting alone doesn’t make your muscles bigger and stronger. That’s what happens after the workouts.
That’s why the work that your body does to repair the stress and damage caused by training is just as important as the work you do in the gym to stress and damage your muscles.
The bottom line is if you’re not fully recovering from your workouts, you’re going to gain muscle and strength slower than you should.
This goes beyond muscle soreness, too.
The presence or absence of soreness is a factor to consider, but it’s not the acid test of post-workout recovery. Just because you’re not sore doesn’t mean your body is ready for another hard workout (and, on the flip side, just because a muscle group is sore doesn’t mean it can’t be trained again).
You see, heavy weightlifting places a lot of stress on the body that goes beyond muscle damage. It impacts your joints, glycogen stores, and nervous and endocrine systems, and it leaves a residue of systemic fatigue and inflammation that accumulates over time.
Your body does an excellent job of setting all this right, though, if you give it what it needs, which boils down these five steps:
- Eat enough calories
- Eat enough protein
- Eat enough carbohydrate
- Get ~8 hours of quality sleep every night
- Take the right supplements
Let’s dive in and learn how to do each correctly.
- 1. Eat enough calories.
- 2. Eat enough protein.
- 3. Eat enough carbohydrate.
- 4. Get ~8 hours of quality sleep every night.
- 5. Take the right supplements.
- Protein Powder
- Fish Oil
- Want to Learn More About How to Gain Muscle and Strength Faster?
- How to Create the Ultimate Muscle Building Workout
- The Bottom Line on Boosting Muscle Recovery
Table of Contents
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Most people think that calories only count when you’re talking weight loss.
What they don’t realize, though, is calories are what fuel every process in your body, and the processes related to muscle growth are metabolically expensive.
If you don’t eat enough, your body can’t do many things as efficiently, including everything it needs to do to recover from your workouts.
This is why workouts take a bigger toll on you when you’re dieting, and why you have to accept slow or no muscle gain when you’re focusing on losing fat.
Thus, if you want to maximize muscle recovery, then you need to make sure you aren’t in a calorie deficit.
The best way to do this is to deliberately eat a bit more calories than you’re burning every day (be in a calorie surplus). This ensures that your body has all the energy it needs to push hard in the gym and fully recover from your workouts.
Want to know more about figuring out how many calories you should be eating? Check out this article.
Protein is the single most important macronutrient for muscle recovery.
The reason for this is simple:
Resistance training damages muscle tissue, and protein is required to repair that damage and grow muscles bigger and stronger so they can better deal with such stresses in the future.
That’s why research shows that people who lift weights regularly need to eat about twice as much protein as sedentary folk to keep up with their body’s demands.
This isn’t exactly news to many people, but what they don’t know is just how much protein they should be eating when they want to gain muscle and strength.
Well, a good rule of thumb is 0.8 to 1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day, with the lower end suitable to those eating at maintenance or in a calorie surplus, and the higher end suitable to those in a calorie deficit.
Want to know more about how much protein you should be eating? Check out this article.
I’m no fan of low-carb dieting for us fitness folk, and for several reasons.
One of the substances that carbs are converted to in the body is glycogen, which is stored in the muscles and liver and is the primary source of fuel during intense exercise like weightlifting and high-intensity interval training.
In other words, a low-carb diet creates an environment in your body that’s less conducive to post-workout recovery.
Studies also show that when you’re exercising regularly, restricting your carbs raises your cortisol and lowers your testosterone levels, which further hampers your body’s ability to recover from your workouts.
It’s also worth mentioning that eating a low-carb diet will decrease your strength and muscle endurance, which makes it harder to progressively overload your muscles in the gym and thereby maximally stimulate muscle growth.
Now, in terms of how many carbs you should be eating to boost muscle recovery, the general rule is around 0.8 to 2.5 grams per pound of body weight.
As you can probably guess, the lower end is most suitable to when you’re restricting your calories for fat loss, and the higher end to when you’re in a calorie surplus for maximum muscle gain.
Want to know more about how many carbs you should be eating? Check out this article.
When it comes to muscle recovery, your sleep hygiene is just as important as your diet.
(And these effects become even more pronounced when you’re in a calorie deficit.)
Furthermore, research shows that even a single night of poor sleep can interfere with your performance in the gym, and two nights is enough to ruin it, and multiple studies have clearly demonstrated that athletes who get enough sleep perform the best.
The bottom line is if you’re going to get the most out of your training, then you need to get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep every night, and 8 to 9 hours is better.
If that’s a struggle for you, here are a few simple and scientifically proven strategies for getting better sleep:
- Avoid alcohol, nicotine and caffeine before bed
- Avoid computer screens and artificial light at least an hour before bed
- Maintain a healthy body composition
- Create a relaxing pre-sleep routine
- Keep your bedroom dark, quiet and cool
Want to know more about how to get the best sleep of your life? Check out this article.
I saved this for last because it’s the least important.
If you don’t have your calories, protein, carbs, and sleep on point, no amount of pills or powders are going to fill that deficit.
If you do, however, then there are a few that can help you recover faster and better.
Simply put, it’s the single most effective supplement that you can buy for safely boosting muscle recovery and growth.
Want to know which form of creatine is the best and why? Check out this article.
Carnitine is a substance comprised of the amino acids lysine and methionine, and it plays a vital role in the production of cellular energy.
That’s why I included it in my post-workout recovery supplement RECHARGE.
As you now know, you have to eat quite a bit of protein every day to give your body what it needs to recover from your workouts.
That’s why protein powders are so popular in the fitness space–they make it really easy to hit your daily protein targets.
Want to know how to pick the right protein powder for you? Check out this article.
Fish oil provides your body with two essential fatty acids (EPA and DHA) that most people don’t get enough of through their diets alone.
These fatty acids play vital roles in many physiological processes in the body, which is why studies show that supplementing with fish oil can benefit your health and performance in many ways.
Want to know more about how fish oil can benefit your health and performance? Check out this article.
When you lift weights, your muscles aren’t the only tissues that take a beating. Your joints get assaulted, too.
Everything we’ve talked about thus far will help your joints rebound faster and better, but if you want to give them even more help, then you need to check out my joint supplement FORTIFY.
It contains several compounds proven to increase joint health and performance, including type-2 collagen and curcumin, which work together reduce joint inflammation and speed up healing.
You just got a crash course in a hugely important element of gaining muscle: muscle recovery.
If you want to learn more, though, and particularly how to get the most muscle and strength gain from your workouts as possible, then you want to check out this article:
If you want to build a great body, then you have to subject it to a lot of intense and strenuous workouts.
Everybody knows that.
You also have to make sure that your body can recover from those workouts, though, and be ready for each successive wave of training.
Well, if you follow the simple steps outlined above, you’ll recover better than ever before, and that will translate into faster gains than ever before.
Give them a try and see for yourself!