You’re putting in the hard work to get the body and performance you want. The question is, are you giving your body what it needs for maximal recovery?
After all, the ability to recover quickly from the strain of muscle-damaging workouts is what sets the most successful trainees apart. If you skimp on recovery either due to poor nutrition or an overly stressful lifestyle, your body simply won’t adapt as it should. This article solves that with a list of every possible recovery modality we could think of.
How many can you check off your list?
#1: Get A Massage
Massage increases drainage of waste products from cells and stimulates receptors on the skin, leading to a decrease in pain feedback from the spinal cord.
#2: Eat Dark-Colored Fruits
Antioxidant-rich berries and tart cherries have been found to reduce pain after muscle-damaging exercise because the phytonutrients these foods contain accelerate the elimination of waste products so the body can heal faster.
#3: Eat Leafy Greens & Cruciferous Veggies
Leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower and the other cruciferous vegetables contain antioxidants that help the body to safely metabolize estrogen for better hormone balance.
#4: Foam Rolling
Similar to massage, foam rolling improves neuromuscular drive and lymphatic drainage so that the body can eliminate waste products efficiently.
#5: Do Hot/Cold Therapy
Applying 2 minutes of heat and 1 of cold, repeated 3 times will improve blood flow, bringing recovery nutrients to damaged tissue.
#6: Get Extra Zinc
Zinc is a key element in zinc-copper SOD, an internally produced antioxidant that decreases the inflammatory response of intense training for faster removal of waste products.
#7: Take Post-Workout Protein
Consuming at least 20 grams of fast-digesting protein from whey or free form amino acids in the hour after a workout will maximally stimulate protein synthesis for the repair of damaged tissue.
#8: Eat High-Quality Protein At Every Meal
Eggs, meat, fish, and dairy will replenish the pool of amino acid building blocks for tissue repair and faster recovery.
For years, water was the number one supplement. Drink at least 0.7 ounces per pound of bodyweight. Get supplementary electrolytes for cellular hydration.
#10: Consume Healthy Fat
Fat provides fat-soluble vitamins, improves absorption of phytonutrients in plant foods, and is necessary for hormone synthesis. Nuts, seeds, olives, avocado, coconut, and saturated fat should all be included for peak recovery.
#11: Load Up On Friend & Family Time
Down time with friends and family will lower cortisol and improve mood, boosting feel-good chemical messengers in the body.
#12: Play With Pets
Animal therapy also lowers stress, reducing cortisol output for faster recovery and better mental outlook.
#13: Eat Healthy Carbs
Carbs replenish glycogen stores in muscle and help lower cortisol during the post-workout period so that you are ready when you need to hit it hard again in the gym.
#14: Avoid Alcohol
Alcohol is dehydrating, while slowing the removal of waste products from the body and causing oxidative stress.
#15: Get Your Zzzzzzs
Shoot for more than 10 hours of sleep. Athletes who get at least that much experience accelerated recovery for greater strength, speed, and precision.
Meditation clears cortisol and reduces the stress response post-workout. It’s also been shown to increase recovery hormones involved in protein synthesis (growth hormone and testosterone).
#17: Listen To Music
Listening to your favorite jams has been shown to help calm the central nervous system and speed clearance of lactate.
#18: Do Deep Breathing
Deep breathing that engages the diaphragm stimulates the vagus nerve, which activates the parasympathetic nervous system that oversees rest and recovery.
#19: Avoid Caffeine Post-Workout
Coffee pre-workout can improve training quality but it’s a no-no after exercise because it may inhibit the clearance of cortisol, delaying recovery.
#20: Go On Vacation
Sometimes you need more than an evening out with friends or a killer meditation session. Vacation is the ultimate stress reducer, allowing you to optimize nutrition, sleep, and lifestyle habits to rebalance hormones and eradicate inflammation.
Physical contact with loved ones releases oxytocin, boosting mood and lowering stress.
Laughter is one of the best ways to lower cortisol and improve mental outlook.
#23: Use Amber Light At Night
Low watt and amber light bulbs at night will improve release of the sleep hormone melatonin for a more restful night.
#24: Get Bright Light In The Morning
On the flipside, exposure to bright, vibrant light first thing in the morning can raise testosterone and improve hormone balance.
#25: Hiking/Forest Walking
Walking amid abundant plants and trees exposes you to restorative compounds that eradicate inflammation and lower your experience of stress.
#26: Sunbathe For 15 Min. Between 10 & 2
The body produces vitamin D in response to sunlight, which is necessary for optimal protein synthesis and muscle recovery.
#27: Take Magnesium
Necessary for relaxation, magnesium helps the body clear cortisol after hard workouts.
#28: Eat Salmon & Other Fatty Fish
The DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are incorporated into the outside lipid layer of cells, which allows for less inflammation. Fish oil may also lower cortisol.
#29: Do Easy Cardio
Any kind of exercise that gets the blood flowing will reduce muscle soreness. Avoid motions with an eccentric component that cause muscle damage. Cycling, walking, easy running, and stair climbing all do the trick.
#30: Use Topical Curcumin
Derived from the spice turmeric, curcumin reduces muscle soreness by improving cell repair and reducing inflammation.
#31: Try A Menthol Rub
Menthol has a cooling sensation on the skin that reduces muscle soreness and has a calming effect on the body.
#32: Supplement With Taurine
An amino acid that raises the restful neurotransmitter GABA, taurine improves the water content in muscle fibers for less muscle damage and oxidative stress.
#33: Avoid NSAIDs Like Ibuprofen
Anti-inflammatory drugs have a negative effect on protein synthesis, causing intestinal leakage and elevating inflammation. Use curcumin instead.
#34: Eat Nutrient-Rich Foods At Every Meal
By designing your diet around meat, fish, whole fat dairy, dark leafy greens, colorful vegetables, beans, nuts, colorful berries, olives, avocado, coconut oil, and spices you provide your body with the nutrients to repair tissue and fight inflammation.
#35: Take High-Dose Vitamin C
Vitamin C helps the body metabolize cortisol after hard workouts. Doses of up to 3 grams have been shown to improve hormone balance after heavy training.
#36: Try Phospholipids
Supplementing with 400 mg of phosphatidylserine will help metabolize cortisol post-workout and it can improve brain function when exhausted.
#37: Take Cold Showers
Cold exposure stimulates the thyroid—a gland that releases hormones involved in bone and muscle metabolism as well as cardiovascular function.
#38: Breath Through Your Nose At Night
Breathing through your nose improves diaphragmatic breathing, stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system responsible for rest and recovery. Try taping your mouth shut at night if you are a mouth breather.
#39: Take Digestive Enzymes
Digestive enzymes improve your body’s ability to breakdown and absorb food for lower inflammation and faster tissue repair.
#40: Get An Air Purifier
Reducing your exposure to petroleum-based toxins in carpet, paint, and furniture will reduce the toxic load on the liver and kidneys.
#41: Jump On A Trampoline
Jumping increases lymphatic drainage, boosting immune function and enhancing recovery processes.
#42: Eat Adequate Calories
A low-calorie diet means cortisol will be elevated and you won’t be supplying the body with adequate nutrients for tissue repair or detoxification.
#43: Boost Selenium Intake
A key antioxidant that plays a role in detoxification, selenium also improves hormone balance by reducing aromatase (which turns estrogen into testosterone).
Stretching is calming and restorative and it may improve clearance of waste products produced during muscle damaging workouts.
#45: Say Affirmations
Confident, affirming thoughts can balance stress hormones and improve mental outlook and motivation.
#46: Use Compression Gear
Compression gear stimulates the neuromuscular system and may lower muscle soreness after killer workouts.
#47: Get Extra B Vitamins
Necessary for the release of the calming neurotransmitter GABA, the B vitamins are often depleted in people with elevated cortisol.
#48: Go Dancing
Great for getting the blood flowing to sore muscles, dancing lowers stress and has positive effects on bone metabolism.
#49: Gargle With Water
Gargling stimulates the vagus nerve, which engages “rest and digest” pathways in the body.
#50: Sleep According To Your Circadian Rhythm
People have a natural tendency to either a “morning” or “evening” biorhythm. Adhering to your tendency will enhance central nervous and muscle recuperation, also improving the testosterone-to–cortisol ratio.