Free Shipping on orders $100+


Your Cart is Empty

June 17, 2024 6 min read

Muscle recovery is an essential part of any fitness regimen. It's the process of allowing muscles to repair and rebuild after exercise-induced microscopic tears.

It's common to experience delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) after exercise. DOMS occurs when your muscles feel sore, stiff, weak, or swollen after working out. It typically develops 12-24 hours after exercise.

Taking the proper steps to let your muscles recover is vital for many reasons:

  1. Reduced fatigue and soreness: Recovery can help you feel more energized and motivated to exercise again.
  2. Injury prevention: While recovering, your muscles repair tiny tears that occur during exercise
  3. Better performance: Letting your muscles recover prevents overtraining syndrome, which can compromise your immune system and create chronic pain
  4. Muscle growth: While resting, your body repairs the damage caused by exercise to help muscles grow stronger
  5. Improved immune system: Long-term recovery can help maintain a strong immune system and correct body functions

Whether you're in your 20s going all out to build your physique or a parent in their 40s trying to keep an active life with a busy schedule, letting your body recover is vital to maximizing your exercise. This article will share the best tips for muscle recovery to stay fit and keep your body healthy.

The Science of Muscle Recovery

Before explaining how to recover muscles faster after a workout, it's essential to understand what happens during and after exercise. Understanding this process will enable you to know why we recommend the tips in this article.

What Happens to Your Muscles During Exercise

Four things happen to your muscles when exercising:

  • Energy production: When muscles are used, muscle fibers generate force. These fibers rely on ATP (adenosine triphosphate) as their primary energy source. Once ATP is depleted, the body switches to other energy sources, such as creatine phosphate and glycolysis.
  • Microscopic tears and metabolic stress: When muscles are pushed to their limits, microscopic tears occur. This is a normal part of intense exercise and is part of the adaptation process. High-intensity exercise also creates metabolic stress. This happens from a buildup of lactic acid caused by energy production without oxygen. This contributes to muscle fatigue and burning sensations.
  • Breakdown and repair: The combination of microscopic tears and metabolic stress triggers your body's repair mechanisms. Blood flow increases to the muscles to deliver oxygen and nutrients for repair. Your body also sees a rise in hormone levels, such as testosterone and growth hormone, to promote growth and repair.
  • Inflammation and soreness: Your body's inflammatory response occurs to clear debris from the damaged muscle tissue. This can contribute to delayed onset muscle soreness.

How Does the Recovery Process Work?

The recovery process consists of three phases:

  1. Inflammatory Phase (First 24-72 hours): Right after exercise, your body initiates an inflammatory response, sending white blood cells to the damaged muscle tissue. Prostaglandins, inflammatory mediators, are released, leading to increased blood flow and the sensation of muscle soreness (DOMS).
  2. Repair Phase (2-7 days): After the inflammation subsides, your body enters the repair phase. In this phase, fibroblasts build new collagen fibers to repair the damaged muscle tissue. Muscle protein synthesis increases when muscle proteins are rebuilt and strengthened.
  3. Remodeling Phase (7 days onwards): The final phase focuses on refining and strengthening the repaired muscle tissue. Excess collagen is broken down, and the remaining collagen fibers are reorganized to create a more efficient and stronger structure.

How to Speed Up Muscle Recovery

A woman holding a cup of protein powder

Nutrition & Supplements


Protein provides the building blocks (amino acids) for muscle repair and growth. After exercise, muscle protein synthesis (MPS) increases to repair microtears and build new muscle tissue. The recommended daily protein intake for muscle recovery is 1.4-2.0 grams per kilogram of body weight.

A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) found that consuming 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight post-workout was more effective for muscle protein synthesis than a lower dose (0.4 grams per kilogram).


Carbs replenish glycogen stores depleted during exercise, which are the primary energy source for muscles. Adequate carb intake also helps maintain blood sugar levels, prevent fatigue, and promote muscle recovery. The recommended post-workout carbohydrate intake depends on the intensity and duration of your exercise. Generally, 0.5-1 gram of carbs per kilogram of body weight is recommended.

A study in the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise journal found that consuming a carbohydrate-protein beverage post-workout significantly improved muscle glycogen repletion compared to a protein-only beverage.


Creatine is a molecule found in muscle cells that plays a crucial role in energy production. Supplementation can improve exercise performance and enhance muscle recovery by increasing protein synthesis and reducing fatigue. The recommended creatine dosage for athletes is 5 grams daily for a loading phase, followed by 3-5 grams daily for maintenance.

A review article published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) concluded that creatine supplementation can improve strength, performance, and muscle mass gains, especially for short-duration, high-intensity exercise.

Eat a Balanced Diet

A balanced diet rich in various nutrients is essential for overall muscle recovery and health. In addition to protein and carbs, healthy fats provide essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals that support muscle function, hormone regulation, and immune function.

Focus on consuming whole, unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein sources, and healthy fats.

A man sitting outside drinking a bottle of water

Hydration & Drinks

Stay Hydrated

Keeping your body hydrated is vital to properly recovering muscles. Water plays many roles in recovery, including transporting nutrients to the muscles, flushing out waste products that cause soreness, and regulating body temperature to prevent overheating.

You should aim for two to three liters of water daily. During workouts, plan to drink water every 15-20 minutes, especially in hot or humid conditions. Keep an eye on your urine color; darker urine is a crucial indicator of dehydration.

Cherry Juice

Tart cherry juice has gained popularity as an avenue for enhanced muscle recovery. It contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, which may speed recovery, decrease muscle soreness, and reduce muscle breakdown.

A man sleeping in his bed

Rest & Sleep

Giving your body time to recover post-workout is vital in muscle recovery. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that athletes who slept 10 hours/night for one week significantly improved muscle strength and power.

Rest plays a role in muscle recovery in three ways:

  • It minimizes muscle breakdown as it allows your body to shift focus to repairing building and repairing muscle tissue
  • It promotes the release of growth hormone, which plays a vital role in muscle growth and repair
  • It reduces injury risk, which can be caused by overtraining

The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep per night. For best results, develop a consistent sleep schedule, create a relaxing bedtime routine, and optimize your sleep environment with a dark, quiet, and cool bedroom.

A man and woman stretching their legs

Active Recovery Techniques

Active recovery refers to low-intensity exercises after working out. The goal is to promote blood flow, aid muscle repair, and improve recovery.

Light Cardio

Activities like walking, swimming, cycling, or jogging leisurely can be an excellent recovery form.


Gentle yoga poses can improve flexibility, promote relaxation, and aid muscle recovery.

Foam Rolling

Using a foam roller to apply gentle pressure to your muscles can help break down adhesions and improve blood flow.

Light Static Stretching

Holding static stretches for 15-30 seconds can improve flexibility and reduce muscle tension.

A woman using an electrical muscle stimulator

Passive Recovery

Passive recovery refers to methods that don't require active participation but promote muscle recovery. These methods don't involve you moving but utilize recovery methods to repair and rebuild the muscles.

Compression garments

Compression garments are tight-fitting clothing that apply gentle pressure to your muscles and circulatory system. Wearing these garments post-workout can help improve circulation, reduce soreness, and minimize swelling.


Massages through a professional or massage gun are proven to help muscles recover. They can improve blood flow and aid in circulation, which helps flush out toxins in the body.

Cold therapy

Cold therapy throughcold packs or ice baths can reduce inflammation and muscle soreness. Cold temperatures reduce blood flow and numb pain nerves.


Elevating sore muscles above the heart can help reduce swelling and promote drainage of fluids.

Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS)

Specialized devices called EMS units deliver electrical currents to stimulate muscle contractions. These contractions act as a massage, improving blood flow, reducing muscle soreness, and helping to retrain weakened muscles.

Things to Avoid


Alcohol is bad for muscle recovery in a few ways:

  • It acts as a diuretic, which causes urination and fluid loss. Dehydration is bad for muscles, hindering nutrient delivery and slowing the repair process.
  • Alcohol suppresses protein synthesis, which is vital in muscle repair.
  • Alcohol disrupts deep sleep cycles, which are crucial for muscle recovery and growth hormone production.
  • Alcohol can exacerbate inflammation, which can lead to muscle soreness and delayed recovery.
  • Alcohol can decrease testosterone levels, thus hindering muscle recovery and even potentially impacting future muscle gains.


Tobacco has similar impacts as alcohol, including:

  • Reduced blood flow
  • Impaired oxygen delivery
  • Decreased protein synthesis
  • Increased inflammation
  • And a negative impact on the immune system

The combination of these effects adversely affects muscle repair. Muscles rely on adequate blood flow, oxygen, and protein to recover. Tobacco depletes all of these, leading to impaired recovery.


When it comes to maximizing workout gains, there is no single fastest way to muscle recovery. The secret to maximizing your post-workout recovery lies in balance. It's essential to utilize a combination of recovery methods.

This means fueling your body with the proper nutrients, getting adequate sleep, and using active and passive recovery techniques. Creating this balance gives your muscles the best chance of growing strong and fully recovering.

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.