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Every experienced bodybuilder knows that most muscle growth occurs during the down time that follows a workout, rather than during the workout itself. Giving the muscles a sufficient chance to rest between workouts is one of the best ways to see improvements in your weight training and is also very important when it comes to avoiding injury. Some crucial elements of rest and recovery include:

Stretch at the gym after exercising with dumbbells

Stretching before training

This may sound obvious but despite being one of the most effective aspects of muscle recovery it is very often overlooked. Proper stretching before and after a workout only takes five minutes and will greatly minimise the risk of muscle cramps and delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).  

Getting adequate sleep

Due to the stress that the body is put through during intense training sessions, it is important that you get as many hours of sleep possible every night. Sleep is incredibly important when it comes to building muscle and getting less than 6 hours a night can have a seriously negative effect on the body's ability to build and repair muscle tissue.  

Replacing lost fluids

Dehydration will also slow down the recovery process. The muscles need plenty of fluid to repair and gain strength, which is why you need to drink lots of water before, during and after your workouts. You should refrain from drinking liquids with a high caffeine content as this could dehydrate you even further.  

Don't overtrain

You should give yourself an adequate number of rest days each week and should never target the same muscles with intense training two days in a row. This will almost certainly result in injury and cause major disruption to your workout routine.  

Using supplements

There are many supplements that can assist with muscle recovery. From increasing protein synthesis and decreasing protein breakdown to replacing important amino acids and repairing muscle fibres, recovery supplements can help to reduce muscle soreness and allow for faster progression in the gym.   By following these simple rules and letting your muscles fully recuperate, you can expect to see faster muscle gains as well as improvements in athletic performance.