Resistance training, particularly at the beginning can cause some pretty severe Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) leaving you in a lot of pain and discomfort.
This is perfectly normal, and the pain and discomfort of DOMS will go away with time.
After training consistently for a few weeks you probably won’t even suffer from DOMS any more, unless you do a particularly intense session.
Now it should be made clear that there is nothing that you can do to completely eradicate DOMS, and nor should you want to (it is an important part of increasing size and strength in your muscles).
However the following tips have been scientifically proven to reduce the effects of DOMS and to help your muscles recover.
Tip #1. Sleep More
Sounds pretty easy huh? Just make sure that you are getting adequate sleep. It is whilst sleeping that the majority of your recovery from exercise occurs.
This is due to a process known as Muscle Protein Synthesis which we will go into more detail on further on.
Studies have shown that ingesting whey or casein protein before going to bed will improve post exercise recovery .
So if you have exercised during the day, a night time protein shake will help you recover during your sleep. Other studies have shown that increasing the duration of your sleep can have a huge impact on performance , mood , and the release of Testosterone and growth Hormones .
All of these benefits will help with recovery and will leave you in better shape the next day, just bear in mind that a lot of these studies found between 8-10 hours sleep to be sufficient. So having 6 hours or 16 hours might not be as helpful!
Tip #2. Consume a High Protein Diet
Muscle Protein Synthesis (MPS) is the use of dietary protein to fuel muscle repair and growth. When you exercise every contraction you perform breaks down muscle fibres, immediately afterwards your body begins to repair them through MPS.
To get the most out of MPS you should be consuming the right amount of protein, athletes (or people who exercise regularly) need to consume a lot more protein than sedentary people . So adding high protein foods and protein shakes  to your diet can help you increase MPS which will in turn lead to better recovery.
Tip #3. Increase Testosterone
Raising your testosterone levels can improve MPS and lead to greater muscle recovery .
Obviously there is one easy way to increase testosterone that is very popular amongst bodybuilders and that is injecting yourself with Testosterone. As this is illegal however we will look at natural ways to do so.
Firstly there is increasing sleep  which was mentioned before.
Some studies indicate that supplementing with Vitamin D boosts testosterone  (though many others did not indicate this), and other studies have shown that a diet high in fat can also increase T .
Also, free weight exercises such as barbell squats , and kettlebell swings  have been shown to have a huge effect on Testosterone and Growth Hormone levels (particularly when compared to resistance machine alternatives).
So correct exercise selection can lead to improved recovery from exercise, get your head around that if you can!
Tip #4. Foam Rolling
This is an interesting subject, many people will swear blind that foam rollers can completely cure DOMS.
This however has been proven to be incorrect , foam rolling does not speed up recovery nor does it improve sporting performance. However many studies have demonstrated that it lowers fatigue .
So you should either use the foam roller as part of your cool down (post-exercise) or as part of your warm up the day after. There won’t be any serious improvements on your performance but there may be less discomfort and less fatigue which should help you train better.
Tip #5. Ice Bath
The topic of ice baths has been subject to much debate, there are many who believe that there isn’t anywhere near enough evidence of it improving recovery to justify utilizing it.
Yet some studies have found improved recovery after using ice baths, and almost every Olympic athlete, and sports person uses it as part of their recovery process.
A study by Vaile, Gill, & Blazevich (2007) found that using an ice bath led to reduced DOMS in recreational athletes .
Now filling a bath tub with ice may be the sort of thing that athletes can do but it’s not the most practical of practices.
An easy alternative would be to use ice cubes wrapped in a cloth or towel applied to the affected muscle group. As this technique is controversial you might want to avoid unless you’re particularly concerned with DOMS, and even then results are not guaranteed.
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