Ask Me Anything: Muscle Recovery

Q:  I have questions about muscle recovery: Are there any hard and fast rules about the amount and types of protein I should consume after a workout? How soon after a workout should I eat? Are they a necessity, a luxury or am I wasting my money on ready-made protein drinks like muscle milk and EAS?

Also, what about muscle recovery as it relates to rest and time off in between workouts? I’ve been told that because your muscles need the time to recover and grow, you should not exercise the same muscle group two days in a row. Is this true? On my off days from weight training, I try to do a cardio workout, some stretches for flexibility and some push-ups and planks. If I worked chest and abs the day before, am I working against myself by doing the push-ups and planks?


Recovering from Reps-

A:  Thanks for the questions.  These are two good ones that come up quite often.  In regards to post workout nutrient consumption I feel that it is important to get something into your system immediately especially if your goal is to build muscle.  It may be difficult to consume whole food sources right after a tough workout, so a post workout drink may be best.  Your goals will determine what types of nutrients are in the shake.  If you are trying to increase your bodyweight/build muscle then you will want a shake that is high in protein and carbohydrates.  If you are interested in muscle maintenance then a very low carbohydrate protein drink may be right for you.

In terms of brands I would do a little research on reputable companies and then get a simple whey protein that is low in sugar for maintenance and one that has more carbohydrates for muscle building.  Check out this protein calculator that allows you to add your specific goals to the formula and it can give you an estimate of how much you should take in daily and per meal.

My diet is one of high protein and I occasionally supplement with some whey protein after a workout.  I do try to get most of my protein for the day through whole food sources.

Adding some Whey Protein May Help Build Some Muscle

Shifting gears to your training questions it comes down to your goals and how you are training.  If you are trying to add muscle, splitting up body parts, and doing multiple exercises, sets and reps for these specific body parts then it may be difficult to work those muscles soon after.  If you are training differently and keeping the volume (number of sets and repetitions) low then you should not have a problem doing similar exercises the following day.