Road to Recovery

Did you struggle to get out of bed this morning because of how sore and stiff you felt from yesterday’s workout? Whether you're an amateur marathoner or a routine gym-goer trying to build muscle, you must consider recovery as an integral component of your fitness regimen. Rather than dealing with the ongoing aches and soreness of training, try some (or all) of these science-based suggestions to help your body recuperate quickly and efficiently.

10 Research-Backed Ways to Accelerate Your Recovery from Exercise

1. Catch more Z’s

While the precise mechanisms of how sleep impacts recovery are yet to be elucidated, several research studies suggest that being sleep deprived has significant ramifications on recovery from intense exercise.[1,2] Sleep is also imperative for your body to repair (and build) muscle tissue, so getting additional sleep after an intense training session will only help for developing stronger muscles and enhancing endurance.

2. Put on some relaxing tunes

Music can be an exceptional resource when you’re trying to force your way through a grueling leg workout (or even a moderate jog outside). While your preference in music for exercising is probably something a little more upbeat and fast-paced, try using more relaxing tunes to unwind your mind and body. Slow-tempo music is actually shown in research to help decrease high blood pressure and reduce pulse rate after a workout.[3]

3. Get a massage

Let’s be honest, who doesn’t like a nice back rub (especially after a hard workout)? Full body massages are a great way to reduce lactic acid accumulation in muscle tissue, as well as enhance blood flow and promote quicker recovery.[4] Even a once-weekly massage can work wonders for reducing soreness and keeping your fresh. (Relaxing spa music and scented candles are optional.)

4. Ingest protein before going to bed

Aside from the (extremely) off chance that you sleepwalk into the kitchen at night and grab a protein shake, you’re not going to be eating while you’re sleeping. Consuming a light, protein-rich treat prior to bed, such as Muscle Delight, gives your body the essential amino acids it needs to repair and build muscle tissue while you sleep.[5] You can even take this a step further and consume a serving of BCAAs if you wake up during the night to use the restroom.

5. Foam roll daily

Much of the discomfort that accompanies intense training takes place when your muscles and surrounding fascia become tight and ‘knotted’. By “rolling out” your muscles with a foam roller, you essentially are doing a form of myofascial release (similar to getting a deep tissue massage). Research shows that daily foam rolling can help reduce tightness and knots that form in muscles, which in turn speeds recovery.[6]

6. Eat a high-protein breakfast

After a refreshing night's rest, your body is primed to soak up nutrients and get the day started. Research shows that breakfasts high in protein are best for reducing cravings throughout the day as well as supplying your muscles the necessary nutrients for growth and repair.[7]

7. Consume branched-chain amino acids before/during exercise

Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are the most important amino acids for turning on muscle protein synthesis (MPS).[8] Drinking BCAAs prior to and during exercise helps activate MPS and essentially promote recovery while you’re tearing up the gym. BCAAs are basically like Gatorade for bodybuilders and strength athletes.

8. Refuel with whey protein post-workout

While a protein-rich meal is certainly a great way to prepare your body for the gym, research consistently shows that consuming whey protein (Muscle Delight) after training is the best way to initiate the muscle rebuilding process.[9] After all, why put in all that hard work and effort only to short your muscles of the building blocks they need to come back stronger and better?

9. Take a nap during the day

Taking a short “power” nap after exercise has been shown to be the body into a deep, restorative sleep that can enhance your recovery.[10] And don’t worry, a short nap during the day won’t hinder your ability to fall asleep again at night.

10. Take an ice bath

Research findings propose that taking a full-body ice bath after exercising can considerably decrease muscle/joint aches and exercise-induced inflammation for upwards of 24-36 hours after an intense workout.[11]


  1.  Sleep, recovery, and performance: the new frontier in high-performance athletics.Samuels C. Neurologic clinics, 2008, Apr.;26(1):0733-8619.
  2.  Exercise capacity in patients with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. Przybyłowski T, Bielicki P, Kumor M. Journal of physiology and pharmacology : an official journal of the Polish Physiological Society, 2008, Apr.;58 Suppl 5(Pt 2):0867-5910.
  3. Effect of different musical tempo on post-exercise recovery in young adults. Savitha D, Mallikarjuna RN, Rao C. Indian journal of physiology and pharmacology, 2010, Nov.;54(1):0019-5499.
  4. Comparative study of lactate removal in short term massage of extremities, active recovery and a passive recovery period after supramaximal exercise sessions. Gupta, S., Goswami, A., Sadhukhan, A. K., & Mathur, D. N. (1996). International journal of sports medicine, 17(02), 106-110.
  5. Protein ingestion before sleep improves postexercise overnight recovery. Res PT, Groen B, Pennings B. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 2013, May.;44(8):1530-0315.
  6.  6-day intensive treatment protocol for refractory chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome using myofascial release and paradoxical relaxation training. Anderson RU, Wise D, Sawyer T. The Journal of urology, 2011, Feb.;185(4):1527-3792.
  7. Leidy, H. J., & Racki, E. M. (2010). The addition of a protein-rich breakfast and its effects on acute appetite control and food intake in ‘breakfast-skipping’adolescents. International journal of obesity, 34(7), 1125.
  8. Blomstrand, E., Eliasson, J., Karlsson, H. K., & Köhnke, R. (2006). Branched-chain amino acids activate key enzymes in protein synthesis after physical exercise. The Journal of nutrition, 136(1), 269S-273S.
  9.  Hulmi, J. J., Tannerstedt, J., Selanne, H., Kainulainen, H., Kovanen, V., & Mero, A. A. (2009). Resistance exercise with whey protein ingestion affects mTOR signaling pathway and myostatin in men. Journal of Applied Physiology, 106(5), 1720-1729.
  10. Bonnet, M. H. (1990). Dealing with shift work: physical fitness, temperature, and napping. Work & stress, 4(3), 261-274.
  11. Bleakley, C. M., & Davison, G. W. (2009). What is the biochemical and physiological rationale for using cold water immersion in sports recovery? A systematic review. British journal of sports medicine, bjsm-2009.