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How to Biohack Muscle Recovery
If you are working towards muscle gain, recovery after your workouts is important. Improving muscle recovery will help with soreness and overall muscle fatigue levels. It will also allow you to be more efficient for your next workout and therefore helping your muscle growth goals. Here are some of the top ways to biohack muscle recovery.
There are a few factors that can contribute to muscle fatigue and soreness. First, if your muscles are not receiving the nutrients and fuel that they need during your workout, you will experience fatigue, and soreness at a later stage. Increasing the blood flow and continuing delivering those nutrients is important.
Second, while you progress in your session, your body is building up metabolic waste in your muscles, giving it signal to get a break. We will look at some tricks to prevent those situations, but also various other biohacks for muscle recovery.
Preventing Muscle Fatigue
One of the goals of muscle recovery is, of course, to prevent muscle soreness. Being sore after a workout is not pleasant, but it might also just lower your motivation or capacity for your next workout!
You also want to avoid running low on energy towards the end of your workout. This may lead you to cutting your workout short. Nothing is worse than skipping those last few reps. Or, pushing through but feeling so sore the next day from cumulative fatigue that you skip your next session.
What a lot of people don’t realize is that the major benefit of anabolic steroids is in regards to recovery. Steroids allow for a faster recovery which in turn leads to less muscle fatigue. Less muscle fatigue leads to harder lifting sessions and bigger gains.
Pre-nutrition before hitting the gym is important. While you can work out in a fasted state (read more here), unless you become accustomed to this is can be tough.
A simple whey protein shake can help you make sure that you have enough fuel to keep going during your session and that you will not over-exert yourself. We enjoy this product.
During your workout, if you feel like you are running low on energy, do not forget the immense importance of hydration. For a quick boost you might also want to try adding honey to your water. Honey is a natural antioxidant that may give you a boost or help your body recover faster.It is also slowly digested by your body and will help you keep your sugar levels stable during your workout.
If you are looking for a boost you can also try a pre-workout to get your workout launched the right way.
Biohack Your Post-Workout Recovery
We have already covered in a previous article some biohacks to optimize muscle growth. There are also a few things that you can do for recovery that will help your muscle gain but also prevent soreness.
First and foremost, let’s go over a few basics that are essential to your workout recovery:
- You need plenty of water pre and post workout, to replenish the fluids lost during your session.
- Stretching out after your workout will help with soreness. A good tool to help you do that is a foam roller, that you can use to stretch out the knots in your muscles. You can also try active recovery with a bicycle ride or a fast walk: it will helps with waste transportation in your body, and therefore helping your muscles refuel better.
Now that we have covered the basics, let’s look at how you can biohack muscle recovery
Heat therapy, such as using a sauna is one easy way of biohacking muscle recovery and also the efficiency of your workout. Research shows that hyperthermia (increasing your body core temperature) right after a workout could boost growth hormone. It doesn’t have to be a very long session to achieve this effect. It also increases the blood flow to the muscles which helps with recovery.
Another interesting thing is that hyperthermia combined with some form of exercise might even increase growth hormone levels some more. So if you feel like you tolerate the heat pretty well, you can also do some mild exercise in the sauna, like yoga or some squats.
Cold Therapy (or Cryotherapy):
It might seems contradictory with what we have just discussed, but hypothermia can also help. It is believed that exposing your body to a cooler environment and therefore lowering your body core temperature can enhance your immune system and help decrease inflammation.
When exposed to the cold, your body triggers a defense mechanism to maintain your core body temperature at a normal level. You experience blood vessel constriction and your heart rate increases to help your blood circulate.
You do not need a giant freezer to do this, you could simply take a cold shower after your workout or enjoy a short swim in a cooler pool or a lake. It is also worth mentioning that a cold shower 2 to 3 hours before going to bed might help your body releasing endorphins, therefore helping you going to sleep more easily.
Another trick to maximize the effects of cryotherapy is to use it in combination with heat exposure. This is of course a bit brutal for your body so make sure you do it in a way that you feel comfortable. You could alternate a cold bath or shower with sauna for example and repeat this a couple of times with short cold/hot exposure.
This is a bit of a new trend, but some research shows that compression gear could enhance the movement of fluids in your body after a workout. It could therefore reduce the muscle soreness due to your workout and help reduce inflammation.
An easy way to try this for yourself is to buy compression socks or tights and wear them for a few hours after a hard workout.
There are a lot of other options out there, such as arm sleeves or compression shorts.
There is still quite some debate about whether this is efficient or not for weight loss or recovery. Using a whole-body vibration machine, you sit or lie on it and the machine vibrating is transmitting energy to your body, forcing your muscles to contract and relax at a fast pace. It is believed that it could help with blood flow and reduce muscle soreness after exercise.
It is quite common nowadays to find some in gyms that you can try out, there are also models that you can purchase for your home.
Tips to Boost Your Body With Muscle Recovery
Our body system is truly complex and amazing, and a lot of its job is done without even having to worry about it. Yet, there are a few simple things that you can try to simply help your metabolism and enhance the effects of some bodily functions.
Boost Your Lymphatic System:
Your liver, kidneys and lymphatic system are the organs that are cleaning up the toxins from your body, whether they have accumulated through food or exercise. But the lymphatic system only gets going when your body is in movement.
One of the ways you can help your body’s “cleaning system” to get going is to have some movements first thing in the morning to get it started. Whether it is a couple of minutes of rope jumping or a series of jumping squats, by jumping up and down quite fast it will stimulate your lymphatic system straight from the start of the day.
Get Some Rest:
It is worth mentioning here that sleep is designed to repair your body (and mind). When sleep deprived, your reaction time is slower, you have issues focusing and more. Getting enough sleep is crucial for all your body functions and also necessary for your muscles to recover from any type of exercise.
If you have issues sleeping enough, there are some tips that can help you.
- Make sure your room is dark and try to avoid screens or phones for an hour before going to bed.
- Try some relaxing music or some guided meditation before going to sleep, to help your brain slow down
- Try to stick to a schedule for bed time and wake up time. By getting your body used to the same sleep hours every day, you are helping building a habit.
We covered extensively biohacks for sleep in a previous article that you can check out here.
Get a Massage:
This might sound a bit indulgent, but some massage techniques will help with muscle soreness or stiff muscles. Depending on what is available close to you, you can also check out some techniques for self-massage by using your hands or some inexpensive tools that you can easily find online.
Supplements and Smart Drugs to Help Muscle Recovery
We have discussed supplements to help with muscle growth in previous articles, but some of those and others also can help with muscle recovery and soreness.
Fish Oil contains omega-3 fatty acids that have anti-inflammatory effects. It also have benefits on joint health and general energy levels. We enjoy this product.
Essential Amino Acids:
EAAs are absorbed easily by the body and helps fighting fatigue and muscle soreness. You can use it prior to your workout or during endurance training if you are in for a long race or exercise session. Here at EMH one of our favorite products comes from Thorne.
This is one of the amino acids naturally present in the body and it is very important for muscles. It helps recovery but also increase protein synthesis and acts as a boost on your immune system. One of the products we recommend is also from Thorne.
An all-round supplement that has many benefits on the body, magnesium is used also by your body for muscle contraction and relaxation, and protein formation. If you workout a lot, you also tend to loss more minerals through perspiration and high mineral turnover because of your activity level.
So supplementing with magnesium can help with muscle recovery and overall cardiovascular functions. One of our favorite magnesium supplements is a zinc/magnesium combo from Thorne.
For a more efficient delivery to your body, you can also try topical magnesium application through a cream. It could help with faster delivery and assimilation depending on the amount of exercise you do and for how long. You can find topical magnesium such as this product.
Turmeric is a plant mainly found in South East Asia, and its roots are used for cooking and in traditional medicine. It helps reducing inflammation and also has benefits for your joints, amongst a lot of other positive effects.
It is easy to buy it in powder form and add it to your drinks during the day, you can also find it under the form of supplements. Make sure, when you consume turmeric, that you consume it with fresh ground black pepper. Turmeric can’t be fully absorbed without some of the essential elements of black pepper. Who would have thought?
As you can see, there are a lot of biohacks you can experiment with to help with muscle recovery. If you want to learn about more hacks to help keep you healthy visit our category page here – Hacks.
Let us know in the comments below what works for you!