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Whether you want to burn fat or build muscle, your workout is just one piece of the puzzle. You’ll definitely want to do certain things after your workout to maximize recovery and speed up your progress. And this can range from eating certain foods and taking specific supplements all the way to manipulating your body temperature in order to boost recovery and strength.
So I’m going to go over all that today starting first with one of my favorite things to do after any workout and that’s contrast therapy. Essentially you would expose a limb or your entire body to a hot temperature for a period of time, and then you would immediately expose it to a very cold temperature for a period of time… and you would repeat this process several times. In very interesting study researchers compared contrast therapy to things like cold water immersion, hot water immersion, passive recovery, stretching, and active recovery (13).
Keep in mind all of these things are believed to be helpful with reducing soreness and speeding up recovery. But researchers found that contrast therapy led to greater improvements in the areas of muscle soreness and post-recovery strength levels than every other recovery method. It also reduced muscle inflammation, improved mobility, and muscle range of motion significantly. This means that contrast therapy can help you recover from workouts faster than almost any other method.
Now the easiest way to perform contrast therapy that anyone can do starting today is by switching between a very cold and hot shower. You can switch back and forth, doing a minute of each for a total of ten minutes. However, my personal favorite way to do this is by using a sauna in combination with an ice plunge. You would get your body really warmed up in a sauna by staying in there for at least a few minutes and then once you’re really warmed up you would jump into the ice plunge, which is basically freezing cold water. Now if you don’t have access to an ice plunge you can do something similar by using the sauna at your gym and then immediately taking a cold shower for at least a minute and then doing that back and forth for a few rounds. If on the other hand, you do want to try an ice plunge you can find one in most traditional Russian and Korean bathhouses.
The next thing you’ll want to do after a workout is instead of having a sports drink like vitamin water, drink some Tart Cherry Juice because it’s specifically great at reducing post-workout muscle soreness. Multiple studies show that consuming tart cherry after resistance training reduces muscle protein breakdown and muscle soreness while speeding up the rate of recovery. (1) One of these studies was specifically focused on eccentric exercise. For those of you that don’t know the eccentric portion of an exercise is when you extend and elongate the muscle as opposed to the concentric portion which is when you contract and shorten the muscle. So for example with exercises like bench press, bicep curls, and squats the eccentric portion would be when you’re lowering the weight down.
Although both concentric and eccentric ranges of motion will break down muscle tissue, the eccentric portion is believed to do the most muscle damage in the form of microscopic tears. So this study was especially interesting because it aimed to find out if tart cherry consumption before and after eccentric exercise would have a protective effect on muscle damage symptoms. (2) So they set up the experiment by having college students either drink twelve ounces of a tart cherry juice blend or a placebo twice a day, once in the morning and once at night for eight days straight. And the scientists found that the group taking the placebo still had a strength loss of 30% even 24 hours after finished the eccentric exercise. And after 96 hours they still had a 12% reduction in strength in the muscles targeted with the eccentric exercise. On the other hand, the group taking the tart cherry juice instead of the placebo only experienced a 12% strength loss after 24 hours and after 96 hours they actually had a 6 percent strength boost above baseline. So in other words, the tart cherry juice reduced strength losses after their workout and helped them recover faster. The reason that tart cherries provide these benefits is that they contain special flavonoids and anthocyanins, which are a group of substances that have antioxidant effects on the body…