The Lowdown On Muscle Recovery
When you’re training hard, muscles start to acidify after a certain load (in other words: the burn is REAL). Here we look at why that happens and how to boost recovery so you get the most from your workouts.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU EXERCISE?
Muscles often feel stiff in the days after an intense workout - this is called muscle pain and it’s believed to be caused by damage to the muscle fibres. After a rest period, the muscles recover so you can continue to train at the same level, or even take it up a step.
To achieve that, you need to challenge your body with new training stimulus. For example, if you start with 30kg of squatting, the muscles adapt by getting stronger. Train harder and your body has to adjust again. You might notice you have more muscle pain with a new training schedule because you are stimulating different muscles. Over time, your body will get used to the exercise and the pain will reduce.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF MUSCLE
Bodybuilders and professional marathon runners have very different builds, yet both are muscular and their muscles can deliver extreme performances. This is mainly due to the fact that they have different ratios of two types of muscle fibre: type 1 (red) and type 2 (white).
Type 1 or slow-twitch muscle fibres are fatigue-resistant and mainly found in endurance athletes. They contain more mitochondria and increasing them doesn’t increase the size of the muscle. Type 2 or fast-twitch muscle fibres are mainly found in strength athletes. They can be developed through overload training which means challenging the muscles by increasing the number of repetitions or weight so they have to adapt repeatedly and are stimulated to grow.
OPTIMIZING MUSCLE RECOVERY
It’s important for everyone to hit their daily protein needs, and it’s especially important for active lifesyles because proteins aid the growth, maintenance and recovery of muscle mass. A protein shake like Whey Perfection is an easy way to up your protein intake and support your recovery. Our Smart Bars and Clean Protein Bars also make a great post-training boost.
Many athletes include BCAAs supplements in their regimes. This stands for ‘Branched Chain Amino Acids’. Because our body can’t produce these itself, you have to get them from your diet or supplements. BCAAs are available in powder, capsule and tablet form.
Magnesium is an essential mineral that supports healthy muscle and nerve function. When the nervous system sends a signal telling your muscles to contract, calcium is released to make this happen, then Magnesium makes the muscle relax again. Many of us don’t get enough Magnesium in our diets, so take 2-3 Magnesium Citrate capsules daily.
SHOULD YOU TRAIN WITH MUSCLE PAIN?
It’s possible, but not ideal because you may not move as well as normal, so won’t be training optimally and your muscles won’t have had time to recover. On average, it takes 48 to 72 hours to recover depending on the type of training, the body’s ability to recover and the extent to which it has already been trained.
If you don’t rest or fail to give your body the nutrition it needs, instead of building muscle, you’ll get the opposite: muscle atrophy, where strength and resilience decrease and muscle breaks down. Recovery days are a vital part of any training regime, but you don’t need to be completely inactive. An active recovery day can involve some light cardio training such as walking or cycling.