Your body deals with nutrients differently at different times, so by consuming particular nutrients right after your workouts, you can improve your performance, muscle growth and overall recovery. Naturally, the point of post-workout nutrition is to replenish your depleted glycogen reserves, decrease protein breakdown and increase protein synthesis. Right after the end of your workout, there is a critical “window of opportunity” that leaves you around one hour to replenish your muscles with amino acids, but also to tap into your parasympathetic nervous system’s response in order to enhance your gains and accelerate recovery. If you don’t use this post-workout window wisely, or you limit it only to nutrition, you are most likely missing out on a great opportunity to stimulate immense muscle growth, so read this article to learn how to grow bigger and stronger in less time with the help of a few simple techniques!
How to boost your gains after training
Chugging down a huge protein shake after you finish your workout isn’t the only nor the best way to optimize your gains. For some real results, do at least one of the techniques presented in the text below, anywhere from 5-15 minutes after your last rep.
#1. Soft tissue work
If you thought that foam rolling is only important while preparing for a grueling workout, think twice. Techniques such as this one are an extraordinarily effective and easy way to stimulate better recovery, aid lymphatic drainage and reduce muscle soreness after the lifting session as well. As soon as you finish your workout, foam roll the soft tissues that were the most involved in the workout, so for example, if you were training arms, the post-workout rolling should focus on the arm muscles. Then, shift the focus to the large superficial muscles and spend adequate amount of time on multiple segments of the body, not only the most activated region.
#2. Static stretching
Another important way to repair any damage caused by the workout and increase muscle growth is by performing static oscillatory stretches. While their function in the pre-training preparation pales in comparison to a well-rounded dynamic warm-up routine, static stretches work amazingly well for reducing muscle soreness, maintaining optimal body alignment and increasing the ability to build muscle when performed during the post-workout window, especially when paired with soft tissue work on the same body areas. Holding static stretches for at least 60 seconds will target contractile muscle tissue and allow more of a pliable neural response to tissues due to increased circulation, thereby stimulating a recovery response by the parasympathetic nervous system. So after you’re done with your foam rolling, address the same tissues with static-based oscillatory stretching to further accelerate the recovery process.
#3. Breathing techniques
Breathing is such a natural act that we only think about it when we’re struggling to catch our breath after a strenuous workout. What exactly does it mean to breathe properly?
It means breathing in a way that supports the physical activity you’re performing and increases its effectiveness. In fact, improving your breath can help you lower blood pressure, improve athletic performance and assist post-workout recovery as well. Since breathing has such an impact on athletic performance, it’s absolutely crucial to focus on your breath during the warm-up routine, the training session and the post-workout window. By focusing on your breath prior to exercising, you’re reinforcing proper breathing mechanics before any heavy lifting takes place, resulting with a more efficient workout. And the thing we want you to focus on is replacing chest breathing with belly breathing. Belly breathing, or deep diaphragmatic breathing, is ideal for athletes in most cases because it optimizes the use of the diaphragm’s full range of motion and capacity.
So instead of breathing with your chest and small secondary respiratory muscles, which will undoubtedly leave you gasping for air pretty soon, you’d be better off with incorporating diaphragmatic breathing during your warm-up and training session. This breathing technique can also help in the recovery process if you apply it during your post-workout stretching and foam rolling. By simply prolonging your inhalation and exhalation and focusing on your breathing while performing your post-workout techniques, you can better engage the diaphragm and stimulate an optimal parasympathetic response. Try to inhale for 4-6 seconds, hold your breath for a second or two then exhale over a 6 count and repeat. That being said, you should aim to improve your breathing all throughout your day. Even the smallest improvements can build up a huge impact over time, so set aside 10-15 minutes every day to work on your breathing and then carry those new habits everywhere your day takes you.
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