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Most bodybuilders finish their last rep, slam down a post-workout drink, and head out the door, but doing light cardio exercise after resistance exercise may speed up recovery.
The researchers got 26 subjects to do six sets of 10 eccentric reps to invoke maximum muscle damage on a leg extension. This kind of exercise causes severe muscle pain and considerable damage to the muscles, too.
The first experimental group cycled for 20 minutes after the session, keeping the level of exertion low at 30% of the maximal heart rate. A second experimental group also cycled for 20 minutes after the workout, but at moderate instead of low intensity. The subjects in this group cycled at 70% of maximal heart rate.
When the researchers tested isometric strength afer muscle-damaging eccentric exercise, the groups that performed cardio afer exercise had improved muscle recovery compared to the placebo group that did nothing afer exercise. The researchers suspect that cardio training done after strength training stimulates blood circulation, which helps the muscle to recover.