10 Ways To Increase Muscle Recovery

Your alarm clock goes off in the morning.. You get up to hit it and almost fall off of your bed due to how sore your legs are. The legs start to tense up and every step you take, you feel the bittersweet leg day soreness.

The last thing you can think about is trying to stretch out your legs when you feel like you can barley walk after training. Well let me discuss with you in todays article 10 ways to increase your muscle recovery so you can get through the soreness and back to the gym for the best performance possible.

#1 – Mobility work

Deep lunge stretch


When I have a set plan, mobility takes up a good portion of it for a couple reasons. One being that it helps my mobility in exercises and for my performance. Two, it helps with my recovery. I warm up for 10-20 minutes which includes the bike, foam rolling, dynamic stretches and pre activation work. My night time mobility consist of foam rolling, a few dynamic stretches and static stretches. This has been a game changer I have noticed when I stay consistent with it.

#2 – Supplementation
Do you need supplements? Not really but do they help with muscle recovery? Yes, yes they do. Some of my go-to supplements I take for my muscle recovery include BCAAs, protein and creatine monohydrate.

These will reduce muscle soreness and aid with the construction of the muscles when they are broken down and in need to recover.

#3 – Contrast showers
You know when you take a shower and it’s warm for like 2 minutes then gets super cold? Yeah, welcome to a contrast shower. Some people need their plumbing fixed and some people are just crazy like that.

This is a unique method that not a lot of people have the will power to do. It sucks and there is nothing exciting about it. However it does aid in recovery of the muscles. A contrast shower is when you utilize the cold and hot temperature of the water to exert different blood flow through the body. This essentially allows the blood to rush through the body for increased recovery and the heat acts as a method to loosen up some tightness as well. You go from as cold as you can stand it for 30-60 seconds and then to as hot as you can stand it for the same time. I only do this for 4-6 minutes at the most.

I wouldn’t necessarily do this everyday but include it 1 or 2 times a week here and there if your muscles are a little sore.

Here is my article on Contrast showers.

#4 – Sleep!
So I have mixed opinions on this but at the end of the day, it is extremely hard to fight the science on this topic. Research says for best results, you should really try to aim for about 8 hours of sleep a night. Now does everyone get 8 hours every night? Probably not. Do I get 8 hours a night? probably not. Will this make or break you? Ehh maybe but probably not.

Look, for 2-3 years I went almost everyday on 4-5 hours of sleep because I would stay up to work really late and be up by 4:30am everyday to go to the gym. I am not saying this is the right way by any means but I will say I was able to withstand that and felt okay. My anxiety was getting super bad and I would sometimes have a hard time sleeping but I dealt with it.

Recently I have really tried to get 6-8 hours a night and holy cow, I feel way better. Literally a night and day difference. An article I read said that “sleep deprivation can have a significant negative effect on performance and recovery.” It also touches on how when you sleep, your body can undergo protein synthesis and help the recovery process.

#5 – Deep tissue massage
This is very similar to foam rolling, basically the same concept. Now before you go and set up an appointment for a deep tissue massage, I just want to be clear that this isn’t the type of stuff you see in movies where you are relaxed and completely loving every second. This is painful, but a good pain. They are getting deep into the muscle to release tension and allow a better blood flow to happen so for that to work, they will typically use their hands and some massage tools. It is great if you can afford them or just even doing a couple a month is something you could try. Not necessary for recovery though, so feel free to foam roll instead if you’d like.

#6 – Keep hydrated
Keeping hydrated is crucial for too many reasons to write about. However when you are dehydrated, you are putting your body at risk for many things, recovery being one of them. I read in an article that “exercising while dehydrated can cause greater damage to muscles and reduce the body’s ability to repair itself” So carry a jug and a bunch of water bottles and sip on it through the day, especially before, during and after a workout.

#7 – Limit alcohol
I read this in an article and it was different and stood out to me so I wanted to include it into this post. It goes over how studies say that more than 1-2 drinks after working out could impair the bodies chance to recover. I honestly never knew that until I read that, so it is something I wanted to incorporate into todays article.

#8 – Ice bath
This brings me back to the good ol high school days where we would jump in an ice bath after football and track practices. I have done some research on this topic and I found an article that actually goes over how ice baths may not be as good as we think for recovery. However it shouldn’t hurt if you use it here and there after intense workouts. It is said that the cold water constricts blood vessels and flush waste products from the muscles.

I would use ice baths once in a blue moon to help with muscle recovery.

#9 – Static stretch after working out
I have always followed this protocol as a cool down method and to help relax the muscle from being tense. I found a very interesting article that mentioned “Static stretching initially reduces blood flow, capillary region oxygenation, and the velocity of red blood cells to the muscle, but this is significantly increased after the stretch.” This personally makes sense to me because of the mechanical strain being placed on the muscle when stretching and lengthening. This is just like what was mentioned in that article above, it will compress the vascular system. They said there is still research still needing to be conducted for further evidence. In my opinion, I would throw some static stretching in after training for its ability to relax the muscle and cool down the body after exercise.

#10 – Stress management
I got a lot of positive feedback on the article I wrote last week, it was called 10 Ways To Manage Stress. I highly recommend you read that and learn a few techniques.

Another article I read said “When intense workouts are thrown into the volatile combination of high chronic stress and an already overworked body, you are asking your body to eventually break down in the form of lackluster results or, worse, severe injury. Any form of stress in your life is going to take a toll on your overall well-being and your body’s capacity to take on anything further.”

Take some time and manage stress, it will help with recovery and living a happier, healthier life.

Now that we have talked about what we can do to help increase our recovery, it is time to utilize this information and share it with a friend. Pick some of these out to try or do them all! Don’t forget to tell your gym buddy or a friend to help them with their recovery!

Have a great Monday!
-Alex Costa-

Lower Body Stretching Routine

Today I am going to show you some of my go-to stretches for my lower body. I used to do these during football and track season. These will increase flexability in the hip flexors, glutes,hamstrings, lower back and more! Hope everyone is having a great Monday. I will see you guys tomorrow with another video!

    -Alex Costa-

 

Stretches to Relieve Neck Pain

Ever have an ache in your neck and it brings on a headache?

Ever have a stiff neck cause you sleep on it wrong??

Do you have poor posture in your neck and need something to fix it?

I HAVE GOT YOU COVERED!

In todays video, I am giving you a couple stretches you can do at home to lengthen up those muscles and help relieve pain in that area! I hope you all like this video. If you like it then subscribe and tell a friend about the website.

I hope everyone has a great Saturday, enjoy some good football games!
-Alex Costa-

How To Use A Foam Roller

Happy Friday everyone, I hope you all had a great week! I am giving you video #5 which is going over how to use a foam roller. Foam rolling has been around for ages but I don’t see very many people using one. They are a legit tool for mobility and a complete game changer if you are using them correctly. That is why I wanted to post this video today and show you how to use it properly to get the most out of this tool.

 

If you liked this video then you may like this article I wrote a month or 2 ago on why you should be using a foam roller. Come back tomorrow for a NEW video!

Have a great day and great weekend!
-Alex Costa-

CONTENT EVERYDAY FOR NEXT 30 DAYS!

I am excited to bring you something I will be doing for this month of October! This is my introduction video to the whole month of DAILY CONTENT. I will be posting a video to YouTube and Costafitness.org EVRYDAY this month. The videos will be over a lot whether its a vlog for your entertainment or a nutrional video, exercise tips, speed/agility, Q&A, or even one of our workouts, you will have something NEW EVERYDAY! Sometimes the computer I use has issues uploading but we’re going for broke here! Tune in everyday to both platforms and see what I post to help you! I will probably have the daily post up anywhere around 9am -12pm each day. I hope you guys enjoy this, I am excited to bring you all of this free content!!

Make sure you click the link below the video here and hit the “SUBSCRIBE” button on my YouTube page so you never miss a video!

 

SUBSCRIBE TO MY YOUTUBE CHANNEL HERE:

My YouTube Channel

 

Thank you for the support, I hope you all have a great start to your week!
-Alex Costa-

3 Stretches For Tight Calves

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Being a trainer, coach and former athlete of all different sports, one of the more occurring things I hear about is clients and players calves getting tight. Now it really isn’t a surprise for most athletes to go through some calf tightness from time to time. I mean when you think about it, we use our calf muscles a lot through the day. Walking, getting out of bed, driving and even when laying down most of us are moving our feet around which tends to activate the muscles in the calf. So really it’s not a big surprise when athletes especially go through this because they put strenuous pressure on those muscles as they use them to make cuts, run and jump. Today I am going to show you 3 stretches you can do to help get rid of soreness in those calves!

 

I would like to start off with a brief story though. When I was entering my sophomore year of high school, I went to Marshall University for a football camp. The picture below was the head coach of the football team and I before the camp had started. When we were competing against each other at the end, I had a weird feeling in my calf. At that time I didn’t know what a tight muscle felt like. I kept playing through it cause it would go away after about 3-5 seconds of locking up. Eventually it caught up to me.. I had thrown a pass and dropped to the ground after, holding my calf. It was completely locked in one position and it wasn’t moving. One of the kids that was on my team had ran over, grabbed my leg and pushed my foot back to stretch it. It finally released and I went to the team trainers. The next week or two was a little rough, it was sore and I was icing it each day so I was ready for practice when I got back.

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I have went through a few situations with my calves but I am telling you a story like this to let you know that I have been in that spot and experienced it. If I would have known what I do now, it would be a different ball game.

Now that story time is over, lets get into how you can fix up those tight calves with a few stretches!

Stretch #1)

This first one I am about to show you is pretty simple but I am going to explain a couple KEY things about this one. First of all, find a spot you can drive your heel into with keeping your toes up. This will put your foot into a dorsiflexion position. These stretches will be unilateral stretches so as we are stretching 1 calf at a time, make sure the leg is straight for this exercise. What that will do is stretch the big meaty part of the calf called the gastrocnemius muscle. My players love this one haha.

 

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Stretch #1

 

Stretch #2)

Next up will be a stretch to hit the soleus muscle which lies underneath the gastrocnemius. It is a little deeper so sometimes stretching different muscles in the calf can help depending on where the discomfort is. The thing you will want to notice about this stretch is the leg is NOT straight like the first one. The leg of the calve being stretched is slightly bent to help “turn off” the gastrocnemius and target the soleus.

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Stretch #2

 

Stretch #3)

A lot of times people may have some tightness in the front part of your calf around the shin area. This can be confused for shin splints at times. This usually tends to be a little tightness in the anterior tibialis. This stretch below will help stretch that muscle out.

The stretch will start off with you curling your toes and digging them into the ground slightly behind you. Next you will proceed with a forward shift of the knee which will begin the stretch.

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Stretch #3

 

KEY TAKEAWAYS

With all of this being said, I’d like to clear up a few commonly asked questions about this topic.

How long do I hold the stretches?

For these stretches, I would do them 1-2 times each side depending on how tight you are in the calves. I would hold stretches from 20-30 seconds each time.

When should I perform these stretches?

I would perform these type of stretches after a game or competition. After practice and runs. If it is really bugging you before practice then I would try these stretches for about 20 seconds each leg. Sometimes getting a little movement can help though.

What if my calves are still tight and are bothering me after trying the stretches?

If your calves are still irritating you, I would first check form on the stretches to make sure you’re doing them correctly. If that is not the problem, I would just recommend you visit your athletic trainer and get his opinion. Sometimes you may think something is tight but it could be a start to a stress fracture so just to play it safe, get a healthcare professional or athletic trainer to double check.

Sometimes foam rollers, heat and rest can help with tight muscles as well. I will go into detail with that in a different article. Also dehydration can be a problem too, so make sure you are drinking plenty of water.

 

Thank you for reading todays article! I have been very busy lately so I haven’t been able to keep up with the content production of the website or the vlog. I will try to work a little extra to get you all some content this week, thank you for your patience! Hope everyone has a great Monday and starts the week off strong!

-Alex Costa-

1 Stretch That ALL Athletes Need To Do

1 Stretch That ALL Athletes Need To Do.png

When it comes to training my athletes, flexibility and mobility are a couple of the main components I want to increase for them. As any athlete probably knows by now, the more flexible and mobile you are, the less chance of suffering certain injuries. In todays article, I would like to show all of the athletes 1 great stretch that they should be performing.

As I have been dealing with more athletes over the last few months, I have heard a good majority talk to me and ask about tight hips. When tight hips occur, there can be 1 of many different problems but easily one of the most common problems is that the athlete may not always be warmed up the best or perform the right stretches to prepare his or her body. This stretch I am going to show you is more of a dynamic routine than a static hold. This simply means that instead of holding this stretching pose for 30 seconds, we will hold at each spot for about 1-2 seconds to get an increase in blood flow and get the target muscles ready.

Now that does not mean you can’t make it a static stretch and hold it for 20-30 seconds. If you do so, try to do that at night time before bed or after activities such as practice or training.

This stretch is not only getting the legs ready to go but it increases mobility in the spine, core, glutes and upper body as well. It really gets all of the main muscles you use when running ready to fire.

With all of this being said, let me explain how you will perform this stretch. I will break it down into 3 steps. Each position will be held for 1-2 seconds. You can do 2-3 sets of 8 repetitions each leg. There is different names for this stretch but I will call these lunge openers for now.

Step #1) Push up position

Everything here is pretty simple. Start off in a normal push up position with hands shoulder-width apart. (image below)

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Step #2) Spiderman lunge

We are now bringing our right foot up to the outside of the right hand. Dig the heel into the ground so that it stays planted. Try to keep somewhat of a neutral spine like I do below. My back isn’t arched or hyperextended, it stays in that neutral position. Also try NOT to dip the hips, keep them a little high which will lead to a little more of a stretch in the hamstring. (image below)

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Step #3) Open upper body

From here, we our going to take our right hand and point it to the sky. This will rotate the torso toward the right side opening the shoulders, chest, core and mobilizing the spine for a more fluent movement when running. After doing this side you can either alternate and go the other way or hit all of your reps on that side first then come to the left. (image below)

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I believe this can really be a great tool to throw in with your training as a warm up or a stretch after. I hope you all found this article helpful, if you did then share it with your teammates, fellow coaches, training buddies and anyone else that can use this!

Sorry for not posting as much these last 2 weeks. Football has been picking up and our season has officially begun. We won our first game 30-0 so we are off to a good start. I will keep everyone updated on my teams performance as the season goes on. Thank you for the support all around the world! Have a great Wednesday!

                       -Alex Costa-

 

Why You Should Use A Foam Roller

It’s just a styrofoam pad, it is useless…

This is my thoughts on the foam roller a few years ago. UNTIL I had learned and weeped the benefits of them! I want to make this article and video over why you should be using a foam roller.

 

What is a foam roller & what do they do?

A foam roller is a popular mobility tool that can in my opinion, be a complete game changer. It will look like a padded cylinder pillow. Many have made them out of larger PVC pipes and some simply go out to buy one. They come in different sizes, most common ones being about 12 inches long and others around 36 inches for larger areas and different task on the body. It is used as a self-myofacial release method in recovery. In other words, it acts as a deep tissue massage for one using it. It will typically be uncomfortable at first but you will start to be able to withstand the pressure the more you incorporate it into training. It really digs deep to work kinks out of the muscles and allow for a better blood flow circulation which can lead to faster recovery time.  As the blood flow increases, it can act as a solid way to warm up different areas on your body before working out. This makes it perfect for use at anytime! Before, during or after exercise, take your pick! Or do them all.

 

So why should I use a foam roller?

The answer should be simple. If you want to take your performance, mobility and recovery to the next level then you should invest in a foam roller. As I stated above, this tool can help 3 major elements in your fitness goals especially if you are an athlete. If you are an athlete and you have never used one then I recommend that you use one from the gym and perform some of the exercises in the video posted at the bottom. It is actually common for most athletes that play sports all the way till college or if they go pro to not use foam rollers with their team. This is probably due to the price of a fine, quality foam roller. They are not very expensive, but for everyone to have one, it can add up for team expenses. I was able to get mine that is shown in the video below on Amazon. I got mine for an amazing deal, $12!

 

Foam roller exercise video:

 

In conclusion:

I believe that this can help anyone and everyone with different goals. This can help to better posture, performance and recovery due to the blood flow it can allow and help with mobility by it lengthening the muscles and giving a better range of motion. They don’t have to be the best one on the market, try a normal styrofoam one first to see if you like it, they tend to be the cheapest but still work very efficiently.

 

I hope you enjoyed todays article! I appreciate all of the support with the website and training! I will be selling Costafitness tri-blend T-shirts on the website soon! They are so comfortable and everyone that has bought one so far loves them! I will be back tomorrow with more content to help answer questions. Remember to strive to be the hardest worker in the room and help other when you can! Have an awesome hump day!

P.S check out my Instagram on Wednesdays for workout Wednesday post! It’s a free workout to try. Also shoot me an email if you are interested in working with me. I have online 1 on 1 coaching for gym goers and athletes!

 

-Alex Costa-

 

3 Stretches That Will Increase Speed

Stretches are a very important part and essential to any athletes programming. Although static stretches should be avoided before workouts, I believe that these 3 stretches I am about to give to you will make an impact on your sprinting speed. I would recommend doing these after workouts and during the evenings when you are relaxing at home. The reasoning on avoiding a static stretch movement before workouts is because when a muscle is stretched out and then relaxed afterwards, the muscle is in a relaxed, stretched state. When you are competing in a sporting event or weight training, you are wanting your muscles ready to fire instead. The static movements will usually hold you back from full potential on this. This is why I always have my clients perform a dynamic warm up so that they can get the muscles ready to go.

 

These stretches will focus on 3 main components during sprinting.

  1. Hip flexors
  2. Dorsiflexion in the ankle 
  3. Shoulder mobility 

Hip Flexors

Let us start with the good ole hip flexors, shall we?
The hip flexors are made up of different muscles that help put your knee into flexion or in other words, help bring the knee to your chest. The main one we will focus on today is called the iliopsoas made up of the psoas major and the iliacus. The iliopsoas runs from the front, inside of the groin area to the lumbar region of the spine. There are more muscles but for now, lets just focus on this one.

hip flexor

As I mentioned in the paragraph above, the hip flexors are important when running because they bring the knees into the running position. If we can get those stretched out and feel more flexible in the hips then this is when speed and mobility can be added. I have found when I have trained mine and other athletes hip flexors isometrically, I have found the greatest benefit. However, since we are talking about stretches, I’ll come back to isometric training at another time.

In order to stretch the hip flexor, we will have to perform a stretch that will put our hips in a slight posterior tilt while keeping the leg and upper back in an extended state. I good stretch will look like the following:

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In this stretch, you can see that I am starting in a lunge.

  1.  Put the front leg just a little further out than a normal lunge.
  2. Shift weight toward the knee. Do so almost as if you were trying to get your belly button toward your knee.
  3. Keep the hips in a slight posterior tilt meaning keep them back, also squeeze the glutes at you proceed in this stretch.
  4. Raise the arms and let your chest open up with the arms.
  5. Sit and hold stretch for about 20-30 seconds each side.

This is a stretch that will open the hip flexors up and can make a difference in performance.

 

Dorsiflexion in the Ankle 

Now let’s move to the ankle mobility, dorsiflexion in particular. Dorsiflexion in the ankle is when the ankle is pointed up like this image below:

ankle dorsiflexion

As you could guess, this is a critical part to running, especially when sprinting due to the angle differences in different phases of the gait cycle. A lot of us suffer from poor ankle mobility and flexibility and don’t even know it. Now most athletes have a slightly better range of motion in the ankle joint due to the warm ups and stretches the coaches and trainers have them do. They also depend on this joint for most of their movement. A typical gym goer that lives a sedentary life style may have a harder time with this movement because we don’t train like we did in sports and you are moving around a lot less than an athlete would. This is not a bad thing, it just means it’s time to work a little mobility into your programming.

So with that being said, it I want to show you a stretch you can do to increase the dorsiflexion in the ankles so that you can be an efficient sprinter, runner, weight lifter and live a pain free life. Let me introduce you to a stretch that only involves a bench or chair.

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Start with placing the foot onto the bench as close to you your side as you can without your foot falling off. From there we are going to take our knee that is up there and drive it forward like I do in the image above. Keep the heel glued to the bench. Don’t apply so much force that you are in discomfort. I want you to place just enough to feel a stretch around the ankle area and calf. This can be a great stretch for athletes that get a chance to start in any kind of forward lean before a race and even help with ankle flexibility during your squat. These would be positions like sprinters, wide receivers and also very important for football players starting a 40 yard dash.

Shoulder Mobility

Shoulder mobility tends to be neglected when focusing on sprinting and running. The arms are another thing that is always moving when you’re sprinting. The more mobile they are, the more rep frequency there is possible. With faster arm movement means faster leg movement. This is because when we run, our legs and arms are so in sync that when one moves faster, the other has no other option but to catch up!

One major shoulder mobility exercise that I do and make any of my athletes, especially any that are sprinting do is dynamic arm swings. This will get a range of motion pattern going and open up the chest and shoulders. The dynamics shoulder warm up will look like this:

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I will usually do about 1-2 sets of 20 all together (10 each way).

These are only 3 of the hundreds & thousands stretches you can do to help increase linear running speed. I also want to say again to use these more around the evenings and after a workout. Try to warm the muscles up with a dynamic movement before these stretches so the muscles are ready to be stretched and lengthened. The shoulder mobility is more of a dynamic warm up so use that before running.

Thank you for stopping by and reading my article! I hope you gained something from this piece of content. I would like you to send me any ideas on what you would like to hear and I can present you with articles and videos over it! Hope you all have a great Monday and get after it this week. By the end of the day we are all trying to get better so lets help others and get better together!

                               -Alex Costa-

 

 

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3 Stretches to Increase Overhead Mobility

 

Shoulder mobility is a common thing always learned about when it comes to fitness training and athletes. I want to help you increase yours with the 3 exercises you can do in this video.

The shoulders are very mobile with them being able to cross all 3 planes of movement. However this is something that can lead to injuries due to how they move. Common injuries involve the rotator cuffs, shoulder impingement, dislocation and much more. If you are an athlete or serious weight lifter that does a lot of overhead movements like a cross fitter then you know just how important shoulder mobility is.

Use these 3 exercises and increase mobility and decrease the chances of injury. I hope you all have a great weekend! If you want me to cover any topics or have questions then just leave a comment below or shoot me an email!

     -Alex Costa-