Ephrata Rec Center

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Post-Workout Recovery Tips

What you should do after  your workout...

The one thing almost everyone overlooks is what you do after the workout is over. How is doing anything after my workout going to help me lose any additional weight or get in better shape?

It's what you do after the workout is over, that determines how well you recover for the following day, so you can give your best effort again. Injuries, excessive soreness, lack of energy and mental burn out are just some of the things you'll deal with if you neglect doing proper post-workout protocols; ‘post workout protocols’ means all the stuff you need to do to enhance your recovery process. The better you recover that better you'll do and the longer you'll be able to continue without missing a beat. And in the long run, it adds up to big results.

If you want to avoid any unnecessary halt in your progress you MUST have a good recovery protocol. And there are certain "must-do" post-workout tips if you want to ensure optimum recovery.

Here are five recovery tips for you to try after each workout:

  1. Cool down. Continue to move your body until your heart rate comes down. Low intensity walking, jogging or biking is probably the easiest methods. The intensity of the workouts should also dictate how long you should cool down. The higher the intensity the longer the cool down. Even if you don't have time, try and spend at least 5 - 10 minutes cooling down.
  2. Hydrate. Make sure you hydrate your body with fluid and electrolytes. Your surrounding environment will also dictate how much fluid and electrolytes you need. The hotter the weather and the more you sweat, the more liquid and electrolytes you'll need. BTW, you don't need to drink Gatorade just because your favorite athlete drinks it. There are much healthier alternatives. Try water with lemon or lime (or both) a squeeze of orange and a pinch of salt. You can add Stevia for taste if needed. I know that sugar is a huge component in most commercial energy drinks but it's not necessary. Many people think you need sugar to replenish your glycogen levels, but it's actually not completely true.
  3. Roll out your muscles. Use a foam roller, PVC pipe, a massage stick or whatever else you have access to. Soft tissue therapy does wonders for your muscle recovery. Rolling out your sore muscles promote blood follow into various areas of micro tears that occurred in your muscles during the workout (...which is completely normal by the way...) and by doing so it helps to accelerate your muscle's healing process. Warning! If you've never rolled out before it can be quite painful. And unfortunately, if you feel more pain in a certain spot, it's usually an indication there's more micro tears, so you need to give that area more love...and that means spend more time rolling it out. (Ouch!) But trust me; you'll be glad that next day when you're not nearly as sore.
  4. Light static stretches. Although you shouldn't do any static stretches before you workout, since it (neurologically) reduces the muscle’s ability to contract and work optimally, doing them afterward is a good way to re-establish its normal resting length. It's a little like rebooting your computer...you’re re-starting fresh every time.
  5. Post-workout nutrition. Now this is where opinions will differ, and it really comes down to your personal health and fitness goals. Most commonly recommended post workout nutrition is eating or drinking some combination of protein and carbs. If you’re exercising for an hour or more at decent effort level (moderately high intensity), you're going to want to go with a higher protein to carb ratio. Now, if you're goal is to get lean and fit and you're not overly concerned about gaining more muscle, you can actually skip the carbs and just consume protein...especially if you're on a low carb diet and you're doing short but high intensity workouts shorter than 30 minutes in length. As long as you're getting enough protein after the workouts, you don't need to worry about losing your muscle mass.