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4 Science Based Tips to Recover from a Workout

What’s the best way to recover?

Jeremy Ethier, a NASM and FMS certified trainer and YouTuber, goes over the best science based tips to recover from a workout.

It’s not uncommon to feel sore after going to the gym or working out. This muscle soreness is commonly known as DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) and pretty much every athlete has felt it at least once.

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This uncomfortable feeling can come after especially hard sessions or if you haven’t workout out in a while and it is thought to be caused by microscopic tears in your muscle fibres from resistance training or new stimuluses.  

While DOMS discomfort shouldn’t in itself be a problem – it’s your body’s way of telling you to take this easier – it can be annoying if it sticks around for a handful of days.

Further, it can have an impact on future workouts by reducing your performance. So, what are the best ways to relieve muscle soreness and recover from a workout? Jeremy Ethier turns to a few studies.

Related: Muscle Strain: Everything An Athlete Needs to Know

Science Based Tips to Recover from a Workout

Getting enough sleep and eating a nutritious diet are the single most important and beneficial things you can do to effectively recover from a workout.

If you want any additional help, there are a handful of methods that might help too but, before you try them, make sure you’ve got the basics right.


Massages prompt self-myofascial release. A popular method to achieve this is through foam rolling, which might seem to help from empirical evidence but research on the actual benefits of foam rolling is still lacking.

That being said, there are three studies that have shown positive effects of foam rolling on reducing muscle soreness.

Read more: Why Massage Guns Should be in Every Athlete’s Recovery Toolkit

Active recovery

Active recovery can be a good method to reduce muscle soreness. This includes cool downs and low intensity exercise.

This is also an under researched area but there are a handful of studies that have found that active recovery, whether performed directly after exercise or in the days following a workout, can reduce muscle soreness compared to not performing it.

Importantly, use a low intensity exercise that involves the muscles you’ve worked.


Research is relatively inconclusive when it comes to supplements to recover from a workout and reduce muscle soreness, says Ethier. However, he mentions that the research behind Omega 3 is promising. The supplement seems to improve anabolic signalling which likely increases muscle repair and muscle growth.

Caffeine before a workout seems to also reduce muscle soreness.

Slow increases in training intensity

Slowly increasing the intensity of your workouts is the easiest way to avoid muscle soreness and give you the best chances to properly recover from a workout.

If you’re a beginner, de-trained, or starting a new exercise routine make sure you take a few weeks to ease into your program, recommends Ethier. Work at volumes and intensities that are lower than you normally would to prevent excessive soreness.

Learn more

Learn what effect stretching has on recovery, what the benefits of cold water are and how to improve your physical health.

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