Massage for Muscle

Here’s your ultimate post-workout routine: a recovery shake, a shower,  and… a rubdown, of course. Ten minutes of massage after exercise can help alleviate soreness and may speed up recovery, say researchers in Canada.

Here’s how it works:

  • Exercise causes proteins called NFkB chemicals to migrate into muscle cells.
  • This triggers the release of inflammatory proteins into your exercised muscles, causing soreness and prolonging recovery.
  • Massage hinders NFkB chemicals from reaching the muscle cells, stopping soreness before it starts and potentially speeding up recovery.

Squat for Speed

Want a leg up on the competition? Researchers in England report that lower-body exercises can help you sprint faster. In an eight-week study, men did twice-weekly sessions of up to four sets each of four leg exercises. The results: they improved their sprint times by up to 8% and their squat strength by 18%. “Improving squat strength increases the force your legs can put on the ground, making you better at accelerating,” says study author Paul Comfort. Do four sets of five reps of squats, jump squats, straight-leg deadlifts and Nordic curls.

Keep Pushing

Now is the perfect time to reach for a heavier dumbbell. That’s because if you’re not getting stronger, your metabolism may not be as high as it could be, a recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found. Two groups of rats were placed on a three-day-a-week strength training plan, but only one group was given progressively heavier weights. After eight weeks, the rats hefting more iron had a greater spike in metabolic function.

Give Your DNA a Lift

Want to restyle your double helix? Exercise may modify your genes in beneficial ways, say scientists in Sweden. They analysed the DNA of people before and after 30 minutes of working out at 80% of max effort. “Exercise altered the way DNA produces specialised muscle proteins that boost metabolism,” says study author Dr Juleen R. Zierath. “This caused the muscles to burn more fats and sugars.”