What you do in the gym is only part of what enables you to gain strength or muscle mass. Without the right meal plan and recovery program, you’re all but guaranteed to encounter setbacks. P4’s NSF Certified for Sport Recovery Push Formula — now available at a lower price! — features a carb loader and BCAAs to help initiate recovery.
But even using Recovery is just one piece to a bigger puzzle. You see, Recovery Push can support your efforts, but it’s on you to set yourself up for optimal recovery. One way to do that is to feed your muscles throughout the day as well as into the night. The first thing you probably think of is whey protein. Not a bad place to start. Thing is, while fast-digesting whey protein gets a lot of love for its ability to quickly deliver protein to muscles after a workout, it’s important to not forget about casein protein. The slow-digesting milk protein can sustain protein delivery over an extended period, which benefits many athletes, weightlifters, and bodybuilders during times of fasting (sleep) or throughout the day for long-lasting distribution. In other words, using casein or a casein-whey combo shake prior to hitting the sack or before a workout can prevent the body from veering into a catabolic (muscle-blocking) state.
Casein is available in whole-food sources, including cottage cheese, milk, peanut and almond butter, steak, chicken, salmon, and other meats, poultry, and fish. If you’re looking to chew on more foods instead of drink more shakes, those are all good sources.
Other components to max recovery include adequate sleep and proper hydration. Sleep, as we’ve mentioned in a previous post, is of vast importance. A 2011 National Sleep Foundation survey found that nearly half of the adults polled admitted to rarely getting a good night’s sleep. During sleep the body produces growth hormone; for men, up to 70 percent GH secretions happen while they drift into their deep REM sleep cycles. Paired with the GH release, snacking on a slow-digesting protein or food can put you into an optimal position to absorb nutrients and take full advantage of protein synthesis.
Working out while you’re dehydrated can lead to more muscle damage while reducing the body’s ability to repair itself. Avoid that double whammy by drinking up. One method is to drink half your body weight in ounces.
Lastly, prior to and following your training, use a foam roller for five to 10 minutes. We’ve covered the benefits of foam rolling before (read that post here). Breaking up “knots” in the connective tissue can alleviate the knots while helping prevent muscle imbalances.