icon-account icon-glass

Join the community!

We'll keep you up to date with interesting news, product information and offers so you never miss out.

No boring newsletters and we'll never share your address. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Popular Products

The Lean Protein
Whey protein powder for weight-loss.
The Energy Booster
Pre/intra-workout powder with BCAAs.
The Glow Booster
Collagen supplement for skin.

The Science of Post Workout Recovery: How to Maximise Muscle Growth and Repair

22nd April 2024

22nd April 2024

By Shivraj Bassi

Training hard and challenging yourself during your workouts is key to progressing and building muscle, but did you know the true growth happens outside of the gym? To build new muscle effectively, it’s vital to optimise your recovery process, restoring energy and providing your body with the nutrients it needs to grow. Today, we’ll look into what happens to your body post workout and what you can do to maximise your results, leading to faster recovery and better gains.

What Happens Post Workout?

Strenuous training, whether that be resistance raining with weights, calisthenics, HIIT or even cardio, causes microscopic tears in your muscle tissue, which can lead to soreness and fatigue. This often happens a day or two after the workout and is known as DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). DOMS is completely normal and nothing to worry about, but it’s a good sign that your body is in need of support! With proper nutrition and recovery protocols, DOMS should go away in 2-5 days. If it persists for longer then this may be a sign of an injury and you may need medical attention. So, we know that we may experience some soreness after a workout, but what is happening as a response to that? Well, the body undergoes a number of physiological processes, each of which is important to understand and consider if we are to best optimise our recovery. 

Protein Synthesis

Protein synthesis is the most crucial part of muscle repair. Following a workout, your body activates pathways that increase the production of new proteins, essential for rebuilding damaged muscle fibres. To do this effectively, however, you must consume an adequate amount of protein. As amino acids are the building blocks of protein, it’s important to ensure that the protein sources you consume are complete, meaning they contain all the amino acids. Supplementing with a protein powder, such as our own Strong Protein, can assist with this.

Many fitness enthusiasts once hypothesized that there was an ‘anabolic window’, or a set period of time within which you needed to consume protein post workout in order to grow effectively. This has since been proven to be a myth, but the idea is rooted in common sense. Since training causes muscle damage, it’s logical to kick start the recovery process as soon as possible by consuming the nutrients needed for it. So, whilst you won’t lose all your gains if you don’t eat right after a workout, it certainly does make sense!

Inflammation and Immune Response

While inflammation often has negative connotations, it plays a vital role in muscle repair. Exercise-induced muscle damage triggers an inflammatory response, recruiting immune cells to the damaged site. This process clears debris and initiates tissue repair. However, excessive inflammation can impede recovery, emphasizing the importance of managing inflammation post-exercise. Techniques such as foam rolling, coupled with adequate nutrition and sleep, are great for reducing inflammation to manageable levels.

Glycogen Replenishment

Glycogen is glucose that is stored in muscle tissue. It is used as a primary energy source by your muscles, especially during intense activity such as weight training. Glycogen is also what’s responsible for the ‘full’ look of muscles; when your glycogen stores are depleted it can make your physique look flat and your muscles feel smaller. This is nothing to worry about though! It’s just a sign that you need to replenish your glycogen levels, which can be achieved by consuming carbohydrates with a high glycaemic index. Foods such as white rice and potatoes are ideal for this, though supplementing with a carbohydrate powder such as cyclic dextrin or Vitargo may also be of benefit if you’ve had a particularly intense session.

The Most Important Things to Optimise for Maximum Muscle Growth


A balanced post-workout meal containing protein and carbohydrates is essential for muscle recovery. Aim for a protein source rich in essential amino acids, such as chicken, fish, eggs, or plant-based options like tofu or legumes. Pair it with carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores and facilitate protein synthesis. Additionally, incorporating anti-inflammatory foods like berries, leafy greens, and fatty fish can help manage post-exercise inflammation.


Dehydration can impair muscle recovery and performance. Adequate hydration is essential for nutrient transport, waste removal, and maintaining cellular function. Replenish lost fluids by consuming water or electrolyte-rich beverages post-workout. Electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and magnesium play vital roles in muscle function and overall hydration. 

Rest and Sleep

Rest is as crucial as exercise for muscle recovery. During sleep, the body releases growth hormone, facilitating tissue repair and regeneration. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night to optimise muscle recovery. Additionally, incorporating rest days into your workout routine allows you muscles time to repair and adapt to training stimuli. 

Active Recovery

Engaging in low-intensity activities like walking, yoga, or swimming on rest days promotes blood flow to muscles, aiding in nutrient delivery and waste removal. Active recovery accelerates the clearance of metabolic byproducts, reducing post-exercise soreness and enhancing recovery. 

Foam Rolling and Stretching

Foam rolling and stretching can alleviate muscle tightness and improve flexibility, enhancing overall recovery. These techniques increase blood flow to muscles, reducing inflammation and promoting relaxation. Incorporate foam rolling and stretching into your post-workout routine to promote accelerated recovery and reduce the chance of injury.


While whole foods should be your primary source of nutrients, supplements definitely have their place in your post-workout recovery regimen. A high-quality protein powder should be your first purchase, along with a good multivitamin. From here, you can consider what will best help you achieve your goals. For optimal recovery, we highly recommend our own Recover Capsules, which are specially formulated to aid your recovery process, reduce inflammation and regulate your hormones.

Getting the best results from your training is a complicated puzzle with many pieces. Even with the perfect workout plan, your results will be compromised without adequate nutrition and adhering to proper recovery protocols. We hope that this guide to post exercise recovery helps you in your own training, but if you do have any questions, why not book a consultation today with one of our dedicated nutritionists? They’ll be able to best advise on your current routine and help you get the most out of your workouts with proper supplementation and nutrition. Above all, enjoy your workouts and embrace a fitter, healthier lifestyle today!

Product Spotlight

Need Expert Advice?

Other Insights

7 Expert Gym Tips to See Faster Results at the Gym
From the Bedroom to the Gym: Is Your Sex Life Affecting Your Workout Performance?
The relationship between sex and workout performance is one that’s long been debated by scientists and fitness fanatics alike. It’s complicated and multifaceted, so answering the question of whether your sex life is affecting your training is difficult. That said, today we’re going to take a look at a variety of evidence, both academic and anecdotal, as well as several different scenarios and at least try to reduce some of the mystery around the subject. First, it helps to understand what’s actually happening to the body, both physically and psychologically, during both activities.   The Effects of Sex on the Body Sexual activity causes several changes to occur in the body:   Physical Changes That Occur During Sex During sexual activity and the lead up to it, the human body undergoes a process known as the sexual response cycle. This is the case for both males and females, though the cycle can be highly individual and may not be the same each time for each person. Describing the full sexual response cycle is beyond the scope of this article, however it consists of 4 phases: Desire Arousal Orgasm Resolution Factors such as elevated heart rate, increased blood flow and pressure and heightened muscle tension all come into play. If you’d like to read about the sexual response cycle in more detail, check out this great article from Cleveland Clinic.   Psychological Changes That Occur During Sex Several psychological changes occur both during and after sex. Most notable are the release of endorphins and oxytocin, which are associated with improved mood and a better sense of wellbeing. These are also responsible for reduced stress levels, which brings a multitude of additional benefits that are of particular interest to those of us participating in regular training and exercise. Cortisol, the hormone responsible for stress, is catabolic in high levels, meaning it can cause the breakdown of lean tissue. So, whilst it is unclear whether sex itself affects workout performance, the reduction in stress levels it may bring is definitely beneficial for preserving our results!   The Effects of Exercise and Training on the Body Exercise and training also cause the body to undergo a number of changes. These occur both during and after the physical activity. There are in fact a number of similarities in changes that happen during exercise and sex:   Physical Changes That Occur During Exercise The physical changes that happen in the body vary based on the type of exercise being undertaken, however, there are some that are common to exercise in general: Increased heart rate Increased blood flow, especially to the muscles Faster, deeper breathing due to additional oxygen needs Heightened activity within the circulatory, respiratory, musculoskeletal and endocrine systems A full summary of the changes that occur within these systems can be found here. More aerobically demanding exercise will, of course, place greater emphasis on the circulatory and respiratory systems as well as causing fat to be metabolised as an energy source. Resistance training, which often relies more heavily on the lactate and creatine phosphate energy systems, instead promotes greater muscular and endocrine (hormone) activity. Note the common physical changes between sex and exercise here, as they do crossover!   Psychological Changes That Occur During Exercise The psychological changes that occur during exercise are similar to those experienced during sexual activity and are mostly related to the release of endorphins and other ‘feelgood’ hormones. These help to regulate mood, and it is common knowledge that frequent exercise and leading an active, healthy lifestyle promotes a feeling of wellbeing.   Does Sex Affect Our Workouts? This is where things become complicated. Though extensive studies have been done on the subject, the results of these have varied massively. We must also take into account the experience of individuals, and this anecdotal evidence again has huge variance. Let’s look at both:   Sex and Training: What the Science Says Scientific studies on the relationship between sex and training are contradictory at best. There’s no denying the positive benefits of both activities, particularly from a psychological perspective, but as for the effect of sex on actual performance in the gym the results are inconclusive. A study, published in April 2021, by Kirecci, Albayrak and co. examined the effects of sexual activity of 50 men in the 24 hours prior to training on lower body strength. The study measured effects by having the men perform 3 separate squat sessions, each at the same time of day. Each of these sessions occurred after participating in or abstaining from sexual activity the night before. The men performed 5 sets of 5 repetitions of their maximum squat weight during these sessions and the difference in weight lifted was observed. The study concluded that ‘sexual intercourse within 24 hours before exercise [has a] detrimental effect on lower extremity muscle force, which suggests that restricting sexual activity before a short-term activity may be necessary.’ Aside from this study, most others found either no notable relationship between sex and athletic performance. A meta-analysis of 9 crossover studies, conducted by Zavorsky and Brooks and published on 16 September 2022, confirms this. The analysis concluded that ‘The results demonstrate that sexual activity within 30 min to 24 h before exercise does not appear to affect aerobic fitness, musculoskeletal endurance, or strength/power.’ This is perhaps more notable, because these studies incorporated different types of exercise and were not restricted purely to a strength/power based activity like squats.   Anecdotal Evidence: What About the Experiences of Real Gym Goers? The anecdotal evidence is, as expected, highly individualised. However, there tends to be a bias against the results of most studies, particularly in those participating in sports involving strength and aggression. For example, many fighters claim that they perform better when they abstain from sex in the days leading up to a contest. Similarly, bodybuilding forums are full of debate on this topic and many claim they note a significant decrease in motivation to train at maximum intensity after sexual activity. It has been hypothesised that this may be due to a downregulation in testosterone production after sex; during orgasm the mineral zinc is released in the body and this is also a precursor for natural testosterone production in the body and may, therefore, provide some reasoning as to the experience of many trainees.   Key Takeaways The relationship between sex and workout performance will always be a complicated one. The effects of one on the other in terms of physical fitness and, in particular, mental wellbeing, are clear, but when it comes to actual performance this appears to be highly individual. We’d advise doing what feels best for you but not worrying too much about it. Instead, prioritise your nutrition and make sure you’re fuelling your workouts properly. While you’re here, why not take a look at the Innermost range? We’re proud to be completely transparent about the ingredients in our products and we always ensure they’re of the highest quality. Check us out, and be sure to get in touch if you have any questions! Read more