Two Ways to Shorten Your Recovery Time

Man Tired, Resting In The Gym With Barbell
MoMo Productions / Getty

THE PROBLEM:

Your recovery sucks. It takes several days of rest before you feel ready to hit a muscle group hard again in the gym.

THE SOLUTION:

First, don't train for hours and hours. Or every day. "Poor recovery has two culprits," says Carwyn Sharp, C.S.C.S., chief science officer of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). "Overtraining and under-recovery."

To be clear: You can still hit it hard in the gym, provided you don't go too hard for too long in a given workout. 

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"Reducing the volume of your training, or the rate at which you're adding weight in your sessions, will allow your body to adapt appropriately," Sharp says. "This doesn't mean don't go heavy. Rather, take more time to build up to heavier weights. This also gives you more time to make sure your technique is spot-on, which is never a bad thing."

To improve your recovery, focus on nutrition. Within about 30 minutes after your workouts, consume 20 to 30 grams of high-quality whey protein powder, along with 10 to 15 grams of fast-absorbing carbs (e.g., a dextrose supplement, white bread, or a sports drink). This will maximize muscle recovery through increased protein synthesis and the replenishment of glycogen stores.

Finally: Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep per night. "It's not about finding time," Sharp says. "It's about making time." He recommends consistently going to bed at the same time—say, 10 p.m. If that's not realistic, remember this: Not all your sleep has to occur at night. Make time in your day for a 30-minute siesta. "Grabbing a power nap can help a lot," he says.

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