Your efforts in the gym don’t mean jack if you don’t let your body recover. Yes, that one hour you spend pumping iron is necessary to build muscle, but the other 23 are just as essential, if not more so. 

That’s because when you’re lifting weights you’re really damaging muscle tissue, and it’s the time away from the weights, aka your workout recovery period, when they actually grow. What you eat (and don’t), the amount of sleep you get, and how you treat your body all play a major role in how effectively your muscle tissue repairs itself

Let’s start with your diet. To recover, your body needs an ample amount of protein and carbs. Protein provides the building blocks your muscles need to repair, and carbs are digested and then turned into the energy your body needs for your training sessions. But balance is key here — eat too little and you’ll never stimulate muscle growth, eat too much and you’ll just get fat. 

Another key component to optimal recovery is your sleeping habits, which are arguably just as important as your diet when it comes to recovery. It’s while we sleep when the body releases high levels of growth hormone and testosterone, or the two muscle-building hormones.

Then there are the non-essentials – like foam rolling, ice baths, and massage therapy – which can help to tamp down inflammation and reduce muscle strain and body aches. Taking the time to pamper your muscles and ward off issues such as lower back pain or shoulder pain will only allow you to work harder in the gym. 

By that vein, here are ten tips that you can implement right now to start helping your body recover more quickly from your workouts. Your muscles will thank you.

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