Though it’s often ignored, how you recover after a tough workout makes a big difference in how well your body is able to transform.  Ben Greenfield, the Get-Fit Guy for says, “… Exercising without recovering properly is a bit like trying to cook a casserole without turning on the oven–you’ll end up going through all the casserole-cooking motions, but getting no final results, or at least a very disappointing final product.” There are three main aspects to your post workout recovery: stretch, eat right, and hydrate. Here’s how to properly incorporate them into your routine.

Cool Down

Too many people don’t do it, yet cooling down is one of the most important parts of a good workout. From slowly ending your workout to stretching, there are a number of reasons you don’t want to miss this post-workout necessity.

  • Improved blood flow: Circulation of blood in and out of the muscles you’re working is integral to your speed of recovery and therefore the results you’ll see. If running on a treadmill or outside, don’t just stop abruptly. Instead, drop your speed down to a jog and then a walk. Stretching will also have the same effect on your blood flow, so be sure to stretch after every session.

Release knots: A significant cause of post-workout soreness is knotted muscles, especially in your quads and IT bands. Roll the muscles that you just worked with a foam roller. Beware: if you have never done this before, it may be painful at first. But in the end, you’ll feel a difference.

Eat Right

Though you may not be hungry right after a workout, it’s imperative that you eat; but not just anything. Instead of “rewarding” yourself with a big slice of pizza, grab something that will work to help your body recover.  Some post-recovery foods include:

Protein-heavy: Protein is necessary to increase the amount of amino acids, which have been lost during your workout. It also works to repair your muscles.

Carb-heavy: This doesn’t mean you should eat a whole loaf of bread. Nosh on a healthy carbohydrate food like fruit, vegetables or whole grain toast.

In general, a 1:4 ratio of protein to carbohydrates is ideal for a post-recovery snack. Think:

  • Peanut butter and apple
  • Beans and brown rice
  • Low fat yogurt with granola
  • Almond butter and rice cakes


If you haven’t hydrated enough, or at all, during your workout, it’s critical that you do so immediately after.

  • Water: Try to rehydrate with 20 to 24oz of water for each hour of working out. So, if you only had a 30-minute session, drink about 10-15oz.
  • Chocolate milk: Chocolate milk is not just a childhood favorite, but the perfect post-workout recovery drink. With carbohydrates, electrolytes, sodium and potassium-all of which are lost during your workout-you get everything you need in one 8-oz glass to get started toward recovery.
  • Fruit juice: 100% fruit juice-that means no additives or extra sugar-is filled with nutrients that your body can use to recover.

Post-workout recovery is critical to the results that you see from a hard workout. Make time for a stretch session and post-workout snack or drink to be sure you complete your workout 100%.