After having put your body through a significant amount of stress during a gruelling workout session, you have to give it time to recover, repair, and ultimately – come back stronger. Recovery must occur before progress can be made. Always. If you don’t recover, you’re just breaking your muscle tissues down, over and over again. Failing to recover can lead to symptoms of overtraining like poor sleep, decreased performance, and elevated blood pressure.

Adopt these five tips to benefit more from the workouts you already do and recover like a champ.

Get more sleep

Good sleep plays a vital role in our recovery from exercise. During deep sleep, your body releases a pulse of human growth hormone (HGH) to help with muscle tissue repair and growth. If you don’t get enough sleep, your recovery is going to suffer – your broken-down muscles are not going to heal properly.

Have some protein before bed

Your body requires plenty of amino acids, the building blocks of protein, to rebuild your muscle tissues during sleep. You should, therefore, consume an ample amount of protein before bed – this enables you to take full advantage of your spike in growth hormone during sleep for maximal muscle repair. Protein-rich foods include lean meat, eggs, and dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese. However, if the idea of going to bed full turns you off, you can always consider taking amino acid supplements right before bed.

Stay hydrated

When you sweat during exercise, you lose a lot of fluids. The resulting imbalance of fluid and electrolytes in your cells can affect your muscles’ ability to function and recover. So, to ensure optimal recovery post-workout, pay attention to your thirst levels and rehydrate as necessary. How much to drink, though? Well, you should let your body be your guide. You’ll know that you’re sufficiently hydrated when your urine is light yellow and clear enough that you could read a newspaper through it.

Try anti-inflammatories

Research shows that anti-inflammatory medications (drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin) can speed muscle recovery and reduce soreness – at least in the short term. Just one thing to note, though, high doses of NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) may hinder your ability to increase muscle strength, so you might not want to depend on them for extended periods. What you could do, instead, is to consider natural anti-inflammatories like turmeric and willow bark. They’d achieve the same results, without the mentioned adverse side effect.

Take a probiotic

Wait – probiotics can help post-workout recovery? Indeed. The healthy bacteria in your gut, in addition to keeping your digestive system healthy, also aids with the proper functioning of your immune system. When your immune system isn’t functioning at 100%, you’ll find it incredibly challenging to recover from tough workouts. To support the health of your immune system, you should increase your body’s probiotic levels. Don’t worry if you’re not a big fan of yoghurt or kimchi. You can always pick up a quality probiotic supplement, and you’ll be all set.

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