The Dos and Don'ts of Workout Recovery

How to get the most out of your workout and get back in the gym quickly

When athletes, gym rats and beginners alike ask how they can improve, they usually ask about the workout. What workout will make them stronger, faster, fitter, the list goes on. While improvements to your workout routine will help with all of those goals, people too often forget that muscle isn’t built in the gym.

Muscle is torn in the gym, and it is rebuilt in rest and recovery. Those buff dudes you see at the gym every single day didn’t get strong by camping out in the gym. The girls with six packs weren’t working on their abs all day, every day at the beginning (and chances are they aren’t now either). The strongest, fastest, fittest people know they need to vary workouts to give muscle groups a break and they know their body needs rest. They got strong by recovering right and now they can afford to spend tons of time in the gym. [slideshow:880]

Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is the pain that tells you that you’re not quite ready to reenter the gym. DOMS is characterized by swelling, impaired movement and soreness, it happens in the days following strenuous exercise and you definitely know this feeling. It’s the bittersweet sensation of knowing your workout was effective and not being able to walk up or down stairs for two days.

Ultimately, the goals of recovery are to minimize the effects of DOMS so you can get back to the gym faster, to reap the maximum benefits of each workout and, most importantly, to do everything safely. Recovery techniques, like workout plans, get easier through repetitive action.

From foam rolling to ice baths, we’ve compiled the strategies that research has proved most effective and ruled out the ones that just don’t work well. If you thought alternating hot and cold provided maximum benefits you need to read on and if you’re on a super strict diet it might be time to reevaluate. Put down that Gatorade, grab some coconut water and click here to get back in the gym with maximal returns quickly.