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How to Recover After a Workout: 14 Tips for Muscle Recovery

If you’ve been putting some time in on the bike and working to improve your fitness, you've probably caught yourself wondering how to recover after a workout. It feels great to challenge yourself, but dealing with the aches and pains afterward can be bothersome.

To get the most out of your training, it’s important to think about speeding up your recovery from tough workouts so you don't spend too much time resting up, or even worse, overtraining.

In this article, I'll be covering 14 tips for muscle recovery so you can get back out there and work toward your goals.

How to Recover After a Workout

Recovering from a tough workout quickly isn't rocket science. It's a matter of understanding how your body works and adding a few steps to your routine. Here are eight tips on how to recover after a workout:

1.) Get a cool down in

The first thing you want to do to help your body recover from your workout is to do a proper cooldown. This means gradually slowing your heart rate and taking time to stretch and letting your body gradually wind down.

According to the American Heart Association, making sure you get a good cooldown in can help reduce the buildup of lactic acid, which can lead to muscle cramping and stiffness.

To cool down, you simply want to slow down your pace and gradually decrease how quickly you are moving until your heart rate is back to normal. It should only take about 5-10 minutes depending on the intensity level of your workout.

2.) Massage or foam rolling

The next step in how to recover after a workout is to do some sort of massage or foam rolling. Massage is great for breaking down knots and adhesions in your muscles, while foam rolling helps to improve circulation and mobility.


You can spend a few minutes after your workout with a massage gun or foam roller on the muscles that you worked. This can help your muscles recover faster, reduce soreness and improve how you feel the next day.

Here is my favorite massage gun. It’s amazing. I use this foam roller and I use this muscle hook multi-tool to reach hard to get to areas.

3.) Hydrate

Another good step in how to recover after a workout is to make sure you hydrate. Especially with something like cycling which is an endurance activity, hydration is crucial for recovery.

Make sure you’re drinking plenty of fluids before and during your workout, as well as after to replace any fluids that were lost through sweat. Aim for about 16-20 ounces of water per hour when cycling.

You can also opt for drinks that contain electrolytes to replenish nutrients that were lost. This will help your body recover faster and get back to feeling 100%.

Here are the electrolytes that seem to work the best for me without messing with my stomach.

4.) Have a Healthy snack

Once you've cooled down, massaged your muscles, and grabbed a drink, the next part of how to recover after a workout is grabbing a snack. This should be something that contains carbohydrates and protein to replenish your muscles and get them the nutrients they need for recovery.

The Mayoclinic recommends eating your healthy snack within 2 hours to get the most benefits. Here are some good options they suggest:

  • Yogurt and fruit
  • Peanut butter sandwich
  • Low-fat chocolate milk and pretzels
  • Smoothie
  • Turkey sandwich with vegetables

5.) Take a cool shower

Another good tip for bouncing back after a tough workout is to take a cool shower. Healthline notes that a cold shower helps "reduce muscle soreness after intense workouts. Since cold water has regenerative properties, your muscles will relax and repair after a workout."

So once you're ready to hit the shower and wash off all that sweat, go ahead and turn it to the cold side and let it run over your body for a few minutes. It's worth the slight discomfort when it helps you recover faster and feel better the next day.

6.) Get some sleep

When it comes to how to recover from a workout, one of the most important things is making sure you get enough rest. This means getting at least 8 hours of sleep each night and not pushing yourself too hard or working out for too long.

Your body needs time to repair. So while it may be tempting to try and squeeze in an extra workout session, you're better off giving your body the rest it needs so that you can perform at your best the next time.

7.) Active recovery

Another good step in how to recover after a workout is to incorporate some active recovery. This means doing low-intensity activities like walking, swimming, or biking at an easy pace.

According to a study done in 2018, doing this type of activity helps reduce lactic acid buildup, increase blood flow, remove metabolic waste, and reduce muscle tears and pain.

If you find that the day after your tough workout you're still feeling too sore or worn out for a hard push, try finding a lighter workout you can do to help you recover. Your body will thank you for it.

8.) Reduce stress

The last tip for how to recover after a workout is to focus on reducing the stress in your life. Stress can take a toll on your body, so it's important to make sure you're managing it properly.

Stress can also slow down your recovery. One study noted that:

"Stress, whether assessed as life event stress or perceived stress, moderated the recovery trajectories of muscular function and somatic sensations in a 96-hour period after strenuous resistance exercise. Therefore, under conditions of inordinate stress, individuals may need to be more mindful about observing an appropriate length of recovery."

Meaning, stress can increase your feelings of low energy, fatigue, and muscle soreness after a tough workout. Which will definitely increase your recovery time and slow down your progress.

To manage stress better during recovery, find activities that help you relax like yoga or meditation. You can also try activities that help you destress like journaling, deep breathing, or going for a walk.

What Helps Muscles Recover Faster?

Now that we've talked about some more general tips for how to recover after a workout, let's talk about your muscles specifically. Especially if you've been incorporating strength training into your workout routine, you'll want to make sure you give your muscles the best chance to recover quickly and effectively.

9.) Protein

Our first tip for muscle recovery is to make sure that you're getting enough protein in your diet. Protein helps to rebuild muscle fibers and promote healing.

After a tough workout, make sure that you're eating foods that are high in protein like lean meats, fish, eggs, dairy products, nuts, seeds, and legumes. You can also get some extra protein with supplements like whey or soy protein powder.

Here is the Whey protein that I've been using for 15 years.

10.) Healthy carbs

Another important nutrient that your muscles need to recover is carbohydrates. Healthy carbs like whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables provide the energy and glucose necessary for healing after a workout.

Carbs also help to replenish the glycogen levels in your muscle tissue which helps them recover faster. So if you want to get back up and going quickly after a tough workout, make sure you're getting plenty of healthy carbs in your diet. Examples include oatmeal, sweet potatoes, and brown rice to name a few.

11.) Eat a healthy diet

Another good tip for muscle recovery is to make sure you're eating a healthy, balanced diet overall. Eating whole, unprocessed foods that are full of vitamins and minerals will help to ensure your body is getting the proper nutrients it needs to help your muscles recuperate.

This means limiting processed foods and refined sugars, which can cause inflammation and slow down the healing process. Instead focus on eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats like avocados or olive oil.

12.) Compression garments

Another option to help with muscle recovery is wearing compression garments. Compression garments are tight-fitting clothing that helps to reduce swelling and keep muscles from becoming too sore after a tough workout.

They also can help improve circulation, which helps your body flush out lactic acid and metabolic waste quickly, reducing muscle tears and pain.

13.) Cryotherapy

Cryotherapy is another popular technique used to help with muscle recovery. It involves exposing your body to extremely cold temperatures for a brief period of time, usually about 3 minutes. It's similar to placing an ice pack on your muscles.

According to WebMD, cryotherapy can reduce soreness after a workout and help to reduce inflammation and swelling in the muscles.

14.) Consider a supplement

My last tip for how to recover after a workout and speed up muscle recovery is to consider taking a supplement. If you find that after working to improve your diet you still have some nutritional gaps, a supplement could be a good choice.

Supplements can help to make sure your body is getting the nutrients it needs to help your muscles heal and rebuild quickly. Below I've included some good supplements that help with muscle and workout recovery.

Post-Workout Recovery Supplements

Eating a well-balanced diet is the best way to make sure your body is getting the vitamins and nutrients it needs to recover well and perform at its best. But sometimes, even with the best diet, you may find that your body is lacking in certain nutrients.

This is where supplements can help. Below are some of the most popular post-workout recovery supplements to consider. And, as always, remember to talk to your doctor before adding any new supplements to your routine.


Creatine is a naturally occurring compound found in foods like red meat, fish, and eggs. It helps to increase energy production and speed up recovery.

A study on the effects of creatine on exercise and sports performance noted that creatine helped "enhanced force output, augmented power output, increased strength, increased anaerobic threshold, increased work capacity, enhanced recovery, and enhanced training adaptations."

Here is the Creatine that I use.

Protein powder

Protein powder is another popular post-workout supplement, as it helps to replenish the energy spent during exercise and repair muscle tissue.

A study done in 2010 noted that "There is evidence that protein hydrolysates can speed tissue repair following damage and may therefore be useful for accelerating recovery from exercise-induced muscle damage."

Here is the protein powder I’ve been using for over 15 years.


BCAAs, branched-chain amino acids, help with muscle recovery by helping to reduce muscle soreness and fatigue. They can also help enhance protein synthesis, which helps your body build more muscle.

A study done in 2018 noted that "BCAA supplementation may mitigate muscle soreness following muscle-damaging exercise."

Here is my favorite BCAA mix. It tastes great and I like that it has caffeine in it.


Just like a healthy diet helps with muscle recovery, a multivitamin can help to fill any nutrient gaps you might miss with your diet. Most multivitamins usually include a mix of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins B12 and D, calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, and potassium.

These micronutrients can have a large impact on muscle recovery and repair.

Tart cherry juice

A supplement that is gaining in popularity is tart cherry juice. WebMD notes that it can help with exercise recovery, better sleep, and reduced inflammation in the body.

All of this can help you feel better faster and get back to your workouts.

Omega 3 fatty acid

Another good supplement to consider taking is an Omega 3 fatty acid supplement. According to a recent study, these supplements can help reduce perceived muscle soreness.

This can make it easier to talk yourself into getting back out there for that next tough workout.

This is the Omega-3 supplement that I use.

Citrulline malate

Another supplement that might help with muscle soreness and recovery is citrulline malate (CM). Although the research is mixed, there are some studies that suggest CM can enhance blood flow to your muscles.

This helps bring more nutrients to your muscles, remove waste products, and help them recover faster.


Another popular supplement that can help you recover quickly is magnesium. A study done on 18 professional cyclists during a 21-day cycling stage race noted that having adequate levels of magnesium helped with muscle recovery from intense and strenuous exercise.

Considering cyclists are more susceptible to having low levels of magnesium because they tend to be leaner and don't have a lower fat mass, where magnesium is typically stored, it's definitely worth considering adding it to your diet.

This is the Magnesium supplement that I use.

CBD oil

The last supplement that can help with muscle recovery is CBD oil. CBD oil is known for helping reduce inflammation and pain relief.

Plus, it can help with daily wellness, better sleep, and improved immunity. All of which will help you bounce back more quickly so you can get back to training faster

I use the most potent CBD Oil on the market, the Rouse Fit EXTREME STRENGTH CBD TINCTURE 5,000MG CBD.

What Not to Do After Exercising

Now that we've covered how to recover after a workout and what supplements can help, let's talk about what you shouldn't be doing after you exercise. These are the things that will extend your recovery period and make it harder for you to get back out on the bike.

Drink alcohol

The first thing you want to avoid is drinking alcohol. Alcohol has a diuretic effect, which means it will make you dehydrated.

Dehydration can have an adverse effect on how quickly your muscles recover after a workout. Plus, alcohol also impairs protein synthesis and can delay muscle growth and repair.


You also want to avoid tobacco products. Tobacco has been linked to a decrease in blood flow and oxygen delivery, which can directly impact how quickly your muscles recover.

And that's on top of all the other negative side effects tobacco has on your health.

Pushing too hard on your next workout

The last thing you want to avoid is skipping your rest period or going too hard on your next workout. An important part of training hard is giving your body time to heal and recover.

If you push yourself too hard, it could lead to an injury or a setback in your training progress. So, take the time to rest and repair so you can get back out there and keep pushing toward your goals!

Conclusion to How to Recover After a Workout: 14 Tips for Muscle Recovery

So there you have it, 14 tips for how to recover after a workout and promote muscle recovery. Following these tips, as well as listening to your body and not overdoing it, will have you feeling great and ready for your next workout in no time!

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