If you (and your testicles) have ever suffered an ice bath, you’ll be glad to know that new research from the University of Queensland rubbishes the torturous practice. ‘Cold water immersion after training substantially attenuated, or reduced, long-term gains in muscle mass and strength,’ says study co-author Dr Llion Roberts. Unless you’re a masochist, we doubt post-gym sub-zero dips are a regular fixture for you anyway – but if this previously established form of recovery has been laid to rest, what should you do instead?
Roberts suggests active warm-down exercises such as hopping on a stationary bike or rowing machine. Sound advice, but FA physiotherapist Steve Kemp says that’s just the start of it. ‘Post-workout protein, whether from food or a supplement, is vital for muscle repair. And adequate hydration is just as important because it helps remove excess toxins from your body and helps the protein do its job.’
Quality rest is also a must. ‘A full sleep cycle of seven to eight hours is essential to complete the phases needed for proper muscle recovery,’ says Kemp. ‘If your session was particularly hardcore, wear compression gear in bed to encourage even blood flow through the night.’ If Kemp’s techniques are good enough for footballers worth millions, they’re good enough for us. And not an ice cube in sight.
Max was the head of digital content for Men's Fitness which worked alongside Coach between 2015 and 2019.
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