Exercise takes its toll on your muscles. Weightlifting and strength training, in particular, place intense force on them, causing tiny tears that need time to heal. You may feel ready to exercise again the next day, or you may have sore muscles upon waking. But either way, holding off at least 24 to 48 hours will encourage muscle recovery. Add more time to your recovery depending on your intensity level. Even though proper nutrition and workout tips can hasten recovery time, still give yourself ample time to rest. Doing so can prevent injury and help build muscle.
Find your max heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. Multiply this number by 0.70, or 70 percent. When resting between strength-training sets, you'll want to wait until your heart rate drops below that number to resume exercising.
Pace yourself when strength training or weightlifting, and pause between each set until your heart rate returns to below 70 percent of your max. Give your muscles time to recover by resting worked muscle groups for 24 to 48 hours between each 20- to 30-minute session.
Start with a 10-minute aerobic warm-up to prep your muscles. Keep it simple; walking or a light jog will do, as long as you loosen your muscles and elevate your heart rate. Include time for stretching, especially the muscle groups you'll be working most. End with a 10-minute cool-down to lower your heart rate.
Add stretching to your cool-down. Pay particular attention to the muscle groups used during your workout. Try holding your stretches between 15 to 30 seconds. Never make sudden movements during a stretch, and always ease out of a stretch if it becomes painful.
Lessen possible next-day soreness, which may be caused by delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS. Reduce excess discomfort from the miniscule muscle tears that cause DOMS by eating a protein-heavy meal or snack. Add a carb with your protein to rebuild muscle, advises nutritionist Kristin Reisinger.
Rehydrate your body to shorten muscle recovery time. Replenish with small amounts of water for short exercise sessions. Stick to between 1.5 and 2.5 cups, some of which you should sip on while exercising. Hold off on electrolyte replacement drinks, saving them for exercising in hot weather or long-duration exercises. Exchange the water bottle for chocolate milk to fulfill three post-workout needs at once: proteins, carbs and fluids, with added calcium.
- Speak with a personal trainer about adjusting your fitness routine to enhance muscle recovery time between workouts.
- Check with your doctor before starting a workout if you have health concerns or are new to exercising.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Target Heart Rate and Estimated Maximum Heart Rate
- Mayo Clinic: Weight Training: Improve Your Muscular Fitness
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Warm Up, Cool Down and Be Flexible
- Mayo Clinic: Stretching: Focus on Flexibility
- Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism; A Single Protein Meal Increases Recovery of Muscle Function Following an Acute Eccentric Exercise Bout; Timothy Elderidge, Andrew Philip and Peter W. Watt
- American College of Sports Medicine: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
- Mayo Clinic: Water: How Much Should You Drink Every Day?
- Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images