T Nation

Recovery Aids


CT -
Over the years, what sorts of preparation have you done/advised to aid in recovery (particularly sleep quality) for high frequency/intensity training? I've noticed that a few nights of suboptimal sleep patterns really disrupts my performance for the week, or forces me to overcompensate with stims which probably is long term net negative. Thanks for any tips!


Epsom salt baths
Decreasing stim reliance


@Sigil: Z-12 is really good too. Stay away from lightening at night as best you can as well too....light can block your natural melatonin production. You can take a cold shower about an hour before too. Personally I think a lot of sleep problems are related to inability to relax, thinking or worrying about stuff, etc.... Magnesium in ZMA/Elite mineral pro helps. Night wave is a product that teaches you to breath deep & relax & helps people fall asleep within 7 minutes by breathing to a light sequence. I don't have one but have friends that do that like it...you can buy those at Bath & Body Works or order them online. Hope that helps.


Ok thanks guys I will try those. The light at night is pretty key, going to refrain from using computer an hour before bed.


1) Obviously drop the stims as much as possible

2) While Epsom salt baths are great for relaxation and for their anti-inflamatory purposes, if they are overdone they can lead to chronic dehydration which is just as bad as not getting enough rest when it comes to performance

3) I always responded VERY well to a combo of Z12 and ZMA. I'm a light sleeper and this really helps me.

4) Putting your carbs (or at least having a carbs meal) in the evening also helps for serotonin release. This works especially well for people who dropped a lot of fat.

5) Do not go to bed in a mentally active/stimulated state

6) Make the room as dark as humanly possible and lower the temperature a bit


its a proven fact that we sleep better in colder temperatures... that's why most people like the cold side of the pillow.

we can only fall asleep when all of our senses have shut down... the last to shut down is our hearing. try to make the room as quiet as possible... no sleeping with the TV on!!!

if you have noises you can't eliminate, try putting a white noise track on -plenty on youtube. white noise helps to drown out other sounds and can help you relax.


Z-12 is really great. i used to drink beer or wine to go to sleep for months on end. i cut out all the alcohol, and would be up all night. CS suggested the Z-12. the first night 1 took 1 capsule. i was asleep 30 minutes later, had great dreams, and didnt wake up once during the night, not even to go to bathroom. i slept 9 hours, and loved it. now, i only take it when im still wound up from the day's work/family etc.


How much is too much for epsom salt baths?


I personally prefer to use them to help recovery after a grueling session (e.g. after a leg session), not as a relaxation aid at the end of the day. So when you have a workout after which you tell yourself "man that was crazy, I'll regret it tomorrow" that's a good time to use an epsom salt bath. Or when accumulated stress leaves you stiff for a few days in a row.


Also there is a possibility staying in one for too long will cause the body to re-absorb the toxins that were originally drawn out. Now how much of that is Bro Science I don't know, so I try to limit my epsom salt baths to 10-20 minutes. Rarely going over 15 ( Wendler recommends 20 minutes)


Two words for fun and recovery...Hot Tub.


Actually for improved recovery an ice bath is a lot superior that a hot tub. The problems with a hot tub (I have one that I use a lot, but mostly for fun) are the same as a sauna: (1) they can cause dehydration if abused (2) they can raise cortisol if you stay in too long (3) they can raise blood pressure (again if you stay in too long).

They can be of some help for recovery byt enhancing blood flow to the muscles, but if abused they can do more harm than good.


Magnesium "therapy" is best performed with magnesium chloride. This type of magnesium is supposedly maintained by the body far better than Epsom salts (aka magnesium sulphate).

The way I do this is:
- buy a bulk load of pure magnesium chloride flakes
- fully saturate the flakes with filtered water (place in a glass jar and keep filling with water until no more flakes are present; may need to leave overnight etc)
- add the resulting magnesium "oil" liquid to a spray bottle
- spray on sore/worked muscles or indeed all over the body BUT DO NOT SPRAY ON SENSITIVE AREAS!
- leave for at least 20mins to allow for full absorption of the magnesium and then wash/shower off.

This works a treat. Really. Great for sleep to. And it helps increase DHEA hormone levels too.


I've gotta add chamomile tea to the list. It really helps bring my body closer to baseline after a lot of lifting in the 85 percent plus range.