It’s no secret that workout recovery is one of the most important components of your daily workout session. One of the biggest hurdles in developing a post workout routine is understanding that there are multiple components within recovery itself; stretching, healthy eating, supplementing, hygiene and rest. All components must be part of your recovery to ensure improved blood circulation, increased muscle growth, and prevent injuries.
You’re doing your mental and physical health a massive favor by showing up to that workout each day. Bring that you-time full circle by engaging in a thoughtful fitness recovery session each and every time you work out. Workout recovery goes beyond just sprawling out on your mat or the gym floor while thinking to yourself, “I made it,” as you catch your breath and wipe the sweat from your forehead. Implementing a thoughtful workout recovery process is key to retaining the maximum benefits from your sweat-sesh. Let’s break down how this might look.
Cooling down after a workout routine
Making sure you’re cooling your body down right after your workout is mission critical! If you neglect the proper cool-down process, you could be putting yourself at risk for injury, dehydration, or even fainting. It’s essential to end your workout gradually. Any instructor-led online or in-person program should include a plan for a proper cool-down period after the main exercise portion of your fitness routine is finished. This process should follow any type of workout—cardio and strength training included. If you’re working out on your own, designate a time at the end of your exercise of 5-10 minutes to bring your heart rate down and stretch your body gradually.
We know it’s tempting to finish your workout and move on to the next thing, but monitoring and controlling your heart rate as you work out is essential. You may consider taking a short leisurely walk after your workout routine and definitely implement a stretching routine to limit soreness and injury—more on that below. This gentle finisher will allow your heart rate to return to normal (as opposed to coming to a sudden stop).
Now that you’ve cooled down safely, let’s talk about fueling your body to set yourself up for an excellent workout recovery in the hours and days ahead. Taking charge of your fitness is crucial.
What should you drink after a workout?
We all know that hydration is vital when it comes to daily life—this isn’t breaking news—but also, and even more importantly, it’s crucial to stay hydrated during and after your workout. Follow these tips for staying hydrated as you get ready to work those muscles.
- Water – we understand that making those water goals can be a challenge. You can try infusing your post-workout hydration with flavored vitamin drops or electrolytes to sweeten the deal.
- Electrolytes – A proper balance of electrolytes will help fuel your body throughout the workout and encourage muscle contractions. If you aren’t a big fan of sugary sports drinks, try a hydration multiplier or coconut water instead.
- Protein Shake – The options are endless when it comes to creating a tasty and nutritious protein shake. You can shake up a mix of flavored protein powder and supplements or blend your favorite homemade combinations. Soon you’ll lock in your favorite shake recipe, but if you are looking for somewhere to start, go with frozen fruit, your milk of choice, spinach, and healthy fat like avocado or nut butter.
What should you eat before and after a workout?
Foods to eat before your workout
Consuming the proper food before your workout routine is like selecting the right type of gasoline for your car. You wouldn’t put low-octane fuel in your luxury sports car, so don’t do that to your body either! Your body is a luxury machine and it runs on premium fuel only! Like your sports car, you’ll notice a reduction in performance if you fill your body with the wrong fuel. What you feed your muscles definitely matters when it comes to growth and recovery.
Timing does matter when it comes to pre workout meals. It’s suggested that you eat something several hours before your workout to maximize your output. However, we know that’s not always ideal or even possible. So, just make sure you grab something to promote a healthy and effective workout. If this is new news to you, read on for some great fuel ideas.
- Try combining carbs with lean protein and a green side.
- Carbs aren’t just bread, pizza, and baked goods. You can find carbohydrates in brown rice, oatmeal, fruit, and quinoa.
- Lean protein can be anything like low fat dairy, lean meat, egg whites, or protein powder.
- For a quick fix, try greek yogurt and berries.
Foods to eat after your workout
Researchers recommend combining carbs and protein after your workout to maximize recovery and refuel your glycogen stores.
- After workout smoothie (try fruit, greek yogurt, water, nut butter and ice). Tip: swap frozen fruit for ice to make your smoothie more flavorful. Be sure to watch portion sizes, though.
- Nut butter on whole grain toast or combined with steel-cut oats. You can add a little salt to boost your electrolytes and sweeten with a banana, stevia, or whatever meets your macros.
- Egg skillet – combine eggs, veggies, and a carb like quinoa or sweet potato. Add your favorite spices and enjoy this savory post-workout treat.
- Wraps – Try a high fiber wrap with lean protein, veggies, and even some other greens like watercress or spinach for good measure.
Post workout stretching routine
After finishing a strength workout, you may want to take a breather in a child’s pose and really enjoy that deep stretch and timeout—you earned it! You can also incorporate a series of other stretches or foam rolling depending on which muscle groups were your day’s focus. If you trained legs, you might want to do some calf stretches, forward folds, side lunges, wide squat stretches, and a downward dog for good measure after you finish. If you worked the upper body, you might want to stretch your neck carefully (neckrolls are a great release!). Try stretches that extend your arms and shoulders behind your head and in front of your chest. Also, don’t forget to give your torso some love also with an upward-facing dog, standing side-bend, or the beloved cat cow. Your body will thank you for completing this routine after your exercises.
Shower after exercise
After you’re cooled down and well-fueled, it’s time for the best part, taking a shower! Hopping in the shower after you work out (preferably within 20-30 minutes) will aid in muscle recovery and help eliminate any bacteria from your skin. Staying in your sweaty gym clothes for too long can increase the chance of bacteria-related infections. You may also treat yourself by infusing your shower with aromatherapy shower bombs. Be sure to have a clean fluffy towel waiting to complete your daily personal-care experience.
Now that you know the importance of creating an effective post-workout regimen, be sure to put it into practice every time you work out. Committing to post-workout cooldowns and fueling your body correctly before and after each workout definitely takes extra time and care as you get into a routine. Still, it will become as natural as showing up for your training in no time. Be sure to tag us on social media in your post-workout routines, @hamptonfit. We’d love to know how you’re doing!