Picture this scenario, you’ve just woken up from the best sleep of your life after wrapping up a Powerlifting meet the day prior. Your back is tight, traps are inflated, legs feel battered & arms weigh a ton. These feels sound familiar? You could say the DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) is kicking your ass right about now. This is just the beginning, it only gets worse from here for another day or two.

Luckily, this article will outline a comprehensive checklist that will allow you to fast track your recovery and get you back into training.

Nutrition

First things first, ensure to be consuming at minimum your maintenance calories. Once you find this you can split this accordingly over the required macro-nutrients depending on your compositional goals:

Protein – This is the most important one especially after a meet for the repair of muscle tissue & to aid in the recovery of muscle cells which support antibodies which combat infections. General guideline is about 2.2grams of kg of bodyweight.

Carbohydrates – The body’s favourable source of energy, also a stimulator of muscle building or at least maintenance. General guideline is between 2-6grams of kg of bodyweight. This is dependent directly on the individual and activity levels. Obviously post competition you would be exerting relatively lower energy seeing as training intensity and frequency would be dropped to aid recovery.

Fats – Keeps the body’s hormonal balances in check & aids absorption of certain vitamins/minerals. General guideline is anywhere between 20%-30% of total calories depending on the person’s carb or fat sensitivity. As far as recovery is concerned you are probably better off keeping fats lower (towards the 20%) and carbs higher because carbs aid in overall recovery of the body much more significantly than fats do.

Water – Keeping a moderate intake of fluids in daily is not solely important for survival but if you care about retaining muscle mass and just great general bodily functions such as vitamin absorption you don’t want to go without it. Water intake for trained individuals can range anywhere between 2L-4L per day depending of course on activity levels and training requirements. Stay hydrated and don’t let your pee get too yellow.

Massage/SMR

For areas of deep tissue massage, finding a massage therapist who treats a more athletic population is worth seeing in this case. It’s always good to research and find a well recommended massage therapist to aid with regaining full joint movement and helping circulation.

You can even go one step further in finding a recommended physiotherapist or chiropractor that can perform ART (Active Release Therapy). At times a massage therapist can only do so much that a physio or chiro can go beyond with regards to treatment methods & manipulations.

Ensure to not only rely on professionals but also try to look after it yourself. Performing some form of SMR (self-myofascial release) will fast track recovery & accelerate you to re-enter the gym back to full working capacity. If you aren’t already doing this I would strongly recommend you start if you wish to be lifting for the long term as injuries can arise from the smallest muscular restrictions. It has been seen to aid in correcting muscular imbalances, relieving of soreness & improving neuromuscular efficiency.

Training

As sore as you are it’s important to not take excessive amount of time away from the gym. You should still be lifting but at lower intensities, it can surely improve recovery by promoting blood circulation back into working muscles & allowing for waste products to disperse (metabolites). This is active recovery.

Keeping training intensities between 50-65% of training 1RM’s for main lifts (squatting, deadlifting & pressing movements) will be more than sufficient to allow for proper circulation without stressing the CNS any further and delaying the recovery processes.

Ensure lifting is performed with full ROM to regain full motor patterning in major muscles & joints. If you continue to struggle with this within the first couple of sessions specially due to pain it’s highly recommended you see a physio or chiro for a proper screening diagnosis.

Sleep

I’m sure you were waiting for this to pop up sooner or later, but seriously this is one category that shouldn’t be overlooked. Sleep is at the top of the hierarchy with regards to recovery and much has to do with the role it has with the CNS (central nervous system).

Our CNS (and the body’s entire system for that matter) is affected by stressors whether they be physical (training) or mental (work/life). We can counteract these stressors with a sufficient amount of time dedicated to sleep. Minimum hours a person needs to be sleeping per night should range between 7 to 9 hours. Some need more some need less. Just as long as you wake up and feel like you have had enough.

Picture finishing a powerlifting competition, you’ve had to exhaust yourself to absolute failure on all main lifts. Your brain is fried from all the firing of impulse signals to allow your muscles to contract to full working capacity. Muscles would be feeling all beaten up from forceful contractions and to top that off some competitions usually last up to several hours. Now if you decide to not allow sufficient sleep in the next few days, you can pretty much guarantee that your recovery will take longer than necessary. So get your sleep in and don’t take it for granted.

So to wrap things up, all components mentioned are vital for the longevity of any lifter. If you neglect any of the components you are pretty much shooting yourself in the foot with regards to your training. Neglect the basics and you’re setting yourself up for failure, nobody wants that.