The post-workout routine is too often treated as being separate from the workout itself. And that’s exactly where fitness aficionados, and even athletes, fall short. No workout is complete without appropriate rest and recovery.
Eating smart, stretching right, and getting sufficient rest all play a significant role in maximizing gains from the training just completed, and preparing for the challenge ahead.
Whether looking to alleviate soreness, recover faster, or refuel, here are 10 habits that will enhance your post-workout routine.
Don’t rush for the water bottle, or exit, after your workout is “complete.” You need to give your body a chance to cool down through active recovery.
It’s all about moderate movement that will improve circulation and help muscles relax. Light cardio such as walking another lap, going slow on a treadmill or using the row machine at an easy level will do the trick.
Dehydration hinders performance and recovery, so it’s key that lost fluids are replenished promptly and properly. Fluid intake should occur during exercise, but topping up afterwards is imperative to speed up recovery. This will boost metabolism, lubricate the joints and help nutrients be transferred more efficiently across the body.
A lot of factors determine how much you should drink after exercise, yet a simple urine test – where clear or light yellow urine is a pass – will help ensure fluid levels are right.
This one’s both a pre and post-workout routine tip!
A foam roller is an effective way of breaking up knots in soft tissue, leading to improved flexibility and better blood circulation. Because they help loosen muscles, foam rollers allow for a better, deeper stretch, hence should be used before you launch into that hamstring hold.
Using them after a workout can induce a few extra aches, but rest assured this is good pain.
Once the foam roller treatment is complete, a gentle stretch is in order. It’s important to remember that muscles are already nimble after exercise, so there’s no need to overdo it.
The right balance will ensure you are relaxing the nervous system and ensuring muscles recover faster. As always with stretching, don’t push too hard and remember to breathe.
Healthy foods fast-track post-workout recovery by delivering essential nutrients and oxygen to the muscles.
Aim to eat within 60 minutes of completing your workout, and skip the fat. Compensate for depleted energy stores through foods with plenty of protein and complex carbohydrates.
When you don’t have the time – or motivation – to prepare a recovery meal, opt for a smoothie.
Quick, easy, and delicious, smoothies are a supercharged food that stimulate recovery. Power them with superfoods such as kale, chia seeds, beets and tart cherry.
Here are out three favorite recipes.
Relaxation is the easiest component of the post-workout routine, so remember to do it!
Time is an essential part of recovery. While it works most effectively when combined with other after-exercise routines, resting gives the body a chance to repair at it’s own pace.
Good overnight sleeping habits are also imperative to optimize recovery and subsequent performance. A short post-workout snooze won’t hurt either.
While climbing onto the massage table after intense exercise can be hard, it’s well worth the hassle.
By decreasing inflammation and promoting fiber regeneration in the muscles, a massage delivered straight after exercise speeds up recovery. It also leaves you feeling great!
Say goodbye to days of soreness after the next strenuous workout.
For some, cold water treatments such as ice baths are paramount for treating sore muscles and reducing inflammation.
Exposure to severe cold is believed to jump-start the recovery process by speeding up circulation, subsequently moving troublesome waste products like lactic acid away from the muscles.
It’s a post-workout routine that’s worth shivering through.
Listening to your body should underpin every post-workout routine. Here are a few good things to remember:
Your body will generally tell you what it needs, so listen to it.
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