Every serious lifter knows that getting beat up and sore is just part of the package when you train hard.
What a lot of serious lifters fail to focus in on is RECOVERY.
I too was very guilty of never allowing my body to recover.
When I was younger, this wasn’t an issue as my body naturally recovered faster but, now since I’m getting a bit older (29) I can really start to feel the toll my training takes on my body.
I just don’t recover like I used to so I needed to find ways to help speed this process.
Here are the 3 best things I’ve been using to help speed up the recovery process between training sessions:
1) Hot / Cold Contrast Showers OR Hot / Cold Soaks.
This is probably one of the most common forms of recovery I’ve come across with serious lifters. Contracts showers are relatively easy to do.
There hasn’t been that much research done on these that have shown actual solid proof that they work but for me, if it makes me feel less beat up and recharged, I say it works!
You don’t always have to go by what the books say.
Now, if you have access to a ice cold tub + a hot tub right next to each other or within a 10 sec walk apart, you’re in the money and you can get in some good cold / hot soaks. These work a bit better then showers do.
But, the truth is most of us do not have this luxury (me included) so, the next best thing you can do is to simply take a hot / cold contrast shower.
These take a bit getting used to but, just like anything else, you’ve got to push through the uncomfortable part (Ice Cold Water).
I typically go with hot water first then transition over to cold.
As far as how long and how often go, I would do a 10-15 min contract shower going from hot and cold every 60-90 secs or so. I got a water proof watch so it’s easy to keep track of time. 😉
I would recommend doing these at least 30 mins after a training session if possible.
I’ve been doing contrast showers now every time I shower.
2) Epsome Salt Baths
I can remember my dad making me take Epsom Salt Baths back when I was wrestling in high school.
At the time, I thought they were dumb and only for old people but then again, I was young and didn’t know any better.
Now, I know these things are like HEAVEN!
Just spend ten mins in a bath full of hot water with a few cups of Epsom Salt in there and you’ll be all set!
Now, I’m no expert in salts or anything like that but, I wanted to look into WHY these “epsom salt baths” worked so well.
The basis behind these baths comes from the role the Epsom Salt plays in regards to helping your body get in more magnesium and sulfate.
Epsom salt is very rich in both magnesium and sulfate. The reason we can’t just take in mag and sulfate as a pill supplement is due to the inability of the body to effectively absorb mag and sulfate through the stomach.
Mag and sulfate are both more easily absorbed through the skin which is why soaking in a tub with Epsom Salt in it is so effective.
I went ahead and borrowed this off of another website as I was doing a bit more research on Epsom Salt Baths… (Check out planetgreen.discovery.com for more info)
- Improved heart and circulatory health, reducing irregular heartbeats, preventing hardening of the arteries, reducing blood clots and lowering blood pressure.
- Improved ability for the body to use insulin, reducing the incidence or severity of diabetes.
- Flushed toxins and heavy metals from the cells, easing muscle pain and helping the body to eliminate harmful substances.
- Improved nerve function by electrolyte regulation. Also, calcium is the main conductor for electrical current in the body, and magnesium is necessary to maintain proper calcium levels in the blood.
- Relieved stress. Excess adrenaline and stress are believed to drain magnesium, a natural stress reliever, from the body. Magnesium is necessary for the body to bind adequate amounts of serotonin, a mood-elevating chemical within the brain that creates a feeling of well being and relaxation.
- Reduced inflammation to relieve pain and muscle cramps.
- Improved oxygen use.
- Improved absorption of nutrients.
- Improved formation of joint proteins, brain tissue and mucin proteins.
- Prevention or easing of migraine headaches.
Bottom Line – Epsom Salt Baths Work! Especially after a tough workout!
I’ve went as far to use these baths BEFORE a workout as well as the heat really gets the blood flowing nicely and helps me feel a ton better if I’m stiff and sore.
If you have a INTENSE training session the next day, an Epsom Salt Bath would be an excellent choice for the night before.
Simply soak in the tub with 2 cups of Epsom Salt added into the mix for 10-20 mins.
3) Ice Bath Therapy
Now this is another great way to get your self recovered! Guys, you’ll have to suffer through a bit of “shrinkage” but it’s all worth it! 😉
Besides helping yourself heal up from crazy training sessions, ice bath therapy can also help you:
- burn more fat
- increase natural testosterone production
- sleep better
- increase focus and alertness
Again looking back to when I was young, I was naive to think these “ice baths” would work and always skipped out on them after football and wrestling practice.
Even in college, many of my teammates took ice baths and swore by them but I never got into them much.
I wish I could go back to having this luxury for right after I’m done training as now, I have to stop by the gas station and grab three bags of ice each time I want to take an Ice Bath!
I’m sure the attendant at the gas station I frequent wonders why I buy so much ice during the week…
It’s also getting to be expensive! A $6.50 ice cold bath 2-3 days a week???
You’ve got to pay a price I guess… I’ll continue to do them since I’ve felt such great results thus far.
Now, when you combine these 3 recovery techniques from above and actually use them, I know you’ll see the benefits!
The key with these is just like with anything else you do, you must be consistent with them.
I try to get in a ice bath a least 2 times a week if not 3 then try to get a Epsom Salt bath in about 3 times a week.
The contrast showers I do every time I shower now as these will wake you up in the morning for sure and get you feeling good.
The bottom line on these recovery methods is the fact that they do in some way help you recover a bit quicker. Even thought there isn’t much extensive research done on these methods, they work because I’ve found them to work in the real world.
When you train insane, you’ve got to recover some how. these 3 methods with help no doubt!
NOW, LET ME KNOW WHICH OF THESE 3 METHODS IS YOUR FAVORITE AND WHAT OTHER TYPES OF RECOVERY METHODS ARE YOU USING???
Train and Live Aggressive!
PS – (BONUS RECOVERY TIP) Another sneaky way to help your body recover a bit quicker is through supplementing with a HIGH QUALITY Omega 3 Fish Oil.
By now you should have at least heard about fish oil supplements but if not, one of the biggest benefits to supplementing with fish oil is from the anti-inflammatory response fish oils have on the body.
I’ll spare you the whole scientific write up about Fish Oil and let you find out more HERE.